In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, why is Tituba an easy target?

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There are a number of reasons why Tituba becomes an easy target for accusations of witchcraft against her,

Firstly, Tituba is Reverend Parris' slave, which means that she has practically no rights and has to be obedient. She has to bow to her master's authority and has to do as...

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There are a number of reasons why Tituba becomes an easy target for accusations of witchcraft against her,

Firstly, Tituba is Reverend Parris' slave, which means that she has practically no rights and has to be obedient. She has to bow to her master's authority and has to do as she is told. If not, she can be whipped and punished in any number of ways her owner deems fit. This obviously makes her extremely vulnerable and fearful of whatever sanction her owner may wish to impose, and so it is. When she is called by Reverend Hale to explain her actions in the forest, she at first repeatedly denies that she 'trucks' with the devil, but once Reverend Parris threatens her with a whipping and Mr Putnam demands that she be hanged, her resolve dissipates in an instant. In an attempt to save herself, she starts 'confessing.'

Secondly, since she is from Barbados, she is used to voodoo rituals which are customary religious practice on the islands. These rituals involve animal sacrifice and incantations - actions which are deemed Satanist in puritan society. She and the girls had been performing just such a ritual in the forest when they were discovered by Reverend Parris.

Obviously, since Tituba was of a different race and from a different place where they exercised different customs, she was an outsider. As such, she was deemed less worthy than other Salemites and was therefore not offered the same respect as was extended to other inhabitants of the village. Added to this was also her position as a slave. It is for this reason that it was relatively easy for Abigail to point a finger at her and for her accusers to be aggressive and demanding.

A further aspect which can be considered is also the fact that Tituba would have difficulty in communicating her thoughts clearly and would have used the simplest of expressions to explain herself. This may have led to her being ambiguous and certainly would have given others the opportunity to use her poor articulation as a further incentive to use her as a scapegoat, something both the Reverend Parris, Abigail and the other girls were keen to do, since it drew attention away from them.

Tituba thus became the prime suspect and principal accused for charges of witchcraft. It was she, in seeking redemption, who started naming a number of villagers who she had supposedly 'seen' with the devil. Her accusations opened the floodgates for the girls and others to start pointing fingers at many innocents, either to absolve themselves from blame or to profit from the misfortune of those so accused or to exact their revenge against those they deemed their enemies.. 

 

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