What is the role of gossip in the trials? How does Miller use gossip to implicate the whole town in the events of the witch trials?

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We learn about the big role gossip plays in the town very early in the play. First, Reverend Parris confronts Abigail with rumors he's heard. He says, "I have heard it said, and I tell you as I heard it, that [Mrs. Proctor] comes so rarely to the church this year for she will not sit so close to something soiled." Parris has heard gossip around town suggesting that Abigail's reputation is not good, that she is no longer virtuous. Further, when Mrs. Putnam arrives at Reverend Parris's house, she asks, "How high did [Betty] fly, how high? . . . Why it's sure she did. Mr. Collins saw her goin' over Ingersoll's barn, and come down light as bird, he says!" We see that word moves fast in Salem and that people tend to believe what they hear, no matter how far-fetched. News of Mr. Hale's arrival spreads quickly. Parris is terrified that news will spread about what the girls were doing in the forest and that his enemies will "ruin [him] with it." Gossip certainly edges the village toward...

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