I think that the choice of a tragic ending was a direct reflection of the tragedy that was the Salem Witch Trials. Many if the characters in the play represent actual people who were tried and convicted including the one male aaccused witch, Giles Cory, who was, in fact, pressed to death. This was a time when logic and reason did not prevail. For an excellent "real" account of the era, read Cotton Mather's account of the Trial of Martha Carrier. Mather was a minister, he was educated, he should have done something to stop the tragedy, but he did not. The reality wasd that the witch trials brought people back into the folds of the church out of fear at a time when church attendance was declining. Nothing good at all came out of the trials, and many innocent people suffered. Nineteen were hanged, Cory was pressed to death, two people died in prison, and many others spent time in prison for nothing more than being aaccused of witchcraft, often with no evidence at all (again, look at the Mather piece and you will see how circumstantial the evidence presented was in the actual courtroom). I believe that a happy ending would have trivialized the events and lessened the impact that Miller intended with the piece that serves as not only a social and historical commentary but also as a warning for future generations.