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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dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most important way in which gossip plays a role in the trials is that it creates the mass hysteria that continues to promote the trials until the judges finally realize what has been going on (that the girls were really lying) – although this realization does not take place until after the events of the play.  The people of the town spread information from one to another and scare each other with the thoughts that real witches and the devil are going to take over Salem if those who might be witches are not killed in order to free Salem of Satan’s power.  One example of this gossip and how Miller uses gosip to implicate that the entire town is involved first occurs in Act 1 when Giles Corey tells Rev. Hale, upon his arrival, that Martha Corey, his wife, possesses strange books which keep him from saying his prayers and just give him an eerie feeling.  Word of these books spreads around Salem village, and in Act 3 the reader finds out that one of the residents of Salem has used the information about these books to accuse Martha Corey of witchcraft.