What does this quote, from "The Crucible," mean? "Salem in 1692 was in turmoil... Before this could become a tragedy for the community it had to be a tragedy for an individual."
The village of Salem, prior to the Witch Trials, was in turmoil. As the quote states, the tragedy the villagers were facing was responsible for the utter turmoil the community was to face.
The quote, from Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible," refers to the fact that if the villagers in Salem were already having troubles. They were bickering over land, finances, religion, having affairs, and the youth were simply bored. It was these problems which led to the hysteria which broke out as a result of a few girls dancing around a fire, playfully casting spells.
If the troubles of the village had not been as severe prior to the accusations of witchcraft, the community itself would not have had to face such compromising issues. Without the prior existence of grudges, hatreds, and adultery, the villagers of Salem may have been able to move past the rumors of witchcraft. Instead, fueled by the fire of one girl, Abigail Williams, the entire village turned upon itself (using prior feuds for personal gain).