How were the witch-hunt years in "The Crucible" a time of "general revenge"?

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Revenge was certainly a chief motive for the witch hunt. The years leading up to the witch hunt were ripe with feuds (notice how Proctor and Parris dislike each other - since Parris arrived Proctor has all but ceased attending church, mainly because Parris is greedy and worried about possessions rather than a religion), disputes (recall how Putnam accuses Proctor of taking wood from his land. Giles, though, steps in and reminds him how his grandfather had a habit of willing land that he did not own), and old resentments (recall how Putnam is angry that his man for minister did not get selected or how Tituba holds a grudge against Parris for capturing and enslaving her during his time in the Barbados).

All of these factors are building up in the community. Then throw in the strict Puritan religious code where children are to be silent and near invisible, where you have the \'elect\' (those who are predestined for heaven) and everyone else and you have the scenario that leads to the mass hysteria and general revenge of the witch hunt.

Note, however, that the witch-hunt years aren\'t devoted just to getting revenge. The girls begin to like the attention and power they gain from the trials. This becomes a factor for how long the trials go on. Really until Abigail oversteps her authority by implying that Judge Danforth is not out of the devil\'s reach, she was pretty much allowed to accuse at free will.

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In The Crucible, how are the witch-hunts a time of "general revenge"?

Well, if you didn't like your neighbor for some reason, then hey, you can declare them a witch.  If you were upset that for some reason a neighbor got more land than you did, call them a witch and then you can buy up their land when they are thrown in jail or hanged.  If you had ever been offended by anyone, it was your chance to get back.

Thomas Putnam's greed for land prompted him to have his daughter cry out on George Jacobs.  Ann Putnam, very jealous of Rebecca and all of her babies, resentful of her righteous attitude, and incensed by the land wars with the Nurse clan, accused Rebecca of "the marvelous and supernatural murder" of her babies.  The Putnams finally get their revenge.  Walcott, offended by Martha Corey's audacity to tell him that if he didn't feed his pigs they'd all die, declares that she "bewitch them with her books" .  Abigail, upset by Elizabeth firing her and that Elizabeth gets John and she doesn't, devises the entire "needle in the poppet" scheme to get Elizabeth arrested; finally, Abby can have her revenge on that "sickly...cold, sniveling woman"!

Unfortunately, the witch trials were a "respected" form of outlet for some of the less honorable feelings that the people of Salem had for one another.  The trials became a stage where every slight, insult, and feud was dangerously displayed, with disasterous results.

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In The Crucible, how were the witch-hunt years a time of "general revenge"?

Remember in the play that as the priests and judges did more digging, they unearthed some ill will among the people there.  For instance, John Proctor did not like Reverend Parris since he felt the Reverend harped on money  and appearances too much.  Parris did not need gold candlesticks when there were pewter ones.  Likewise, he did not need more salary for wood when wood was provided for him to burn in his fireplace.  Parris feared that his daughter is afflicted and that the parish would blame him for the bad luck because of his greed.  John is later accused of witchcraft because he plows his field on Sunday instead of attending church and because he can't list all of the Ten Commandments.

Elizabeth Proctor was targeted because Abigail Williams wanted her husband.  So, Elizabeth is accused of witchcraft.

Rebecca Nurse is targeted because Goody Putnam is jealous of her. Goody Nurse has had good fortune in that all of her children have survived and she also has many grandchildren.  The Putnams have lost all but one of their children and now she is afflicted with the illness.  Goody Putnam blames Goody Nurse since Rebecca Nurse was her midwife so much of the time. 

Mr. Putnam also used this crazy time to accuse neighbors of witchcraft so he can obtain their land after the accused are hanged.

There are many instances of unChristian behavior and use of the witch trials to exact revenge.

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Explain how Miller shows that the witch-hunt years were a time of general revenge.

I think that Miller establishes much in way of showing how the exercises of power and revenge resided at the core of the witch- hunt years in the initial stage directions that open the first act.  Miller uses this narrative as a way to frame both Salem and how his read of it will reflect the drama and the characters in it.  The "predilection for minding other people's business" becomes one of the elements that Miller uses to construct the idea that the Salem Witch Trials were more about power and revenge than about any sort of redemption or justice.  In these stage directions, Miller talks about how the people of Salem viewed themselves as a "light" in the dark world, using the candle and flame as a metaphor for a fire that can burn anything in its path.  Here, one can see how revenge can be so very close to the passionate authenticity in one's convictions that governs life in Salem.  Through this analysis, Miller makes it clear that power and revenge, being "right" as opposed to doing "right," are the driving forces in the Salem social setting.  Through this, one can understand how the social temperament and configuration of Salem life can lend itself to both a witchhunt as well as one rooted in vengeance.

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