What evidence is there in The Crucible to argue that the most dangerous place in a conflict is on opposing sides?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In some respects, the statement resonates as a bit odd, but it does make sense.  The dangers in any heavily politicized environment where there are no institutional checks to encroachment on individual feelings, beliefs, and expressions is to exist on any end of the political spectrum.  In Miller's drama, this is heavily evident.  Sides are established immediately and in this context, there can only be one side to claim victory.  The challenge in Salem of the time period is that the community has been conditioned to believe instantly in the unholy nature of the devil and that which cannot be explained instantly through state sanctioned church worship.  There is no hesitation with such a fervent fear and it is this domain in which the conflict arises.  Abigail and the girls are able to convince Parris, Putnam, and Danforth and Hale in the authenticity of their convictions.  They are immediately opposed by Giles Corey, Francis and Rebecca Nurse, as well as John Proctor, later on in the drama.  In this, the most dangerous location is to be on either side.  Certainly, this is the case when Rebecca Nurse is arrested and Giles Corey dies.  The construction of binary opposition in Salem, through which only one possible side can emerge victorious, makes taking a position dangerous.  At the same time, the divisive nature of the town's politics reach a point where no one can remain apolitical.  Everyone has to take a side.  In this, there is no place to go but to one side, which proves to be dangerous in the climate of Salem in which there can be no political integration of ideas.  There is simply acceptance with the conformist Status Quo or imprisonment.  In such a condition, there is a real and distinct danger in taking sides in a conflict.

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