What motivates people in The Crucible to accuse others of something they havent done?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is probably one of the most basic questions to come out of the text.  It is one that also features a great many answers and little in way of absolutes.  From what is seen in the drama, one reason why the accusations fly is a grab towards power.  The accusations and trials reach a rather intense pitch in the second and third act because the girls and the leaders of Salem realize quickly how much power they can seize from the accusations being levied and the trials that emerge from them.  It is entirely clear that politics and power lie at the very heart of the trials.  It also becomes clear that the desire for power and control represents why people accuse of something that they have not done.  Another reason why this is the case is to deflect criticism and reflective questions that enable more reflection and more introspection.  Rather than the girls simply accept responsibility for what they have done, the accusations serve as an effective "smoke screen" to deflect criticism of them.  The accusations come to represent this for so many.  Leaders no longer have to answer tough questions about their own lack of leadership in the community.  The public becomes fixated with either fear of being named or the sensationalist value that happens during any sort of accusatory circus.  In this, the motivation for making unfounded accusations becomes part of how the drama unfolds and the themes that result from it.