The Spread of Fear (The Crucible)

Whenever the topic of the Salem Witch Trials comes up there is always the head shake and a role of the eyes that says, “man, those people were dumb.” For a long time I have looked at that time in history that way. I looked at it as a time with poor leaders who let everything get out of control and allowed chaos to arise…but I realize I’ve been looking at it all wrong. The scary thing about the witch trials wasn’t poor leadership during the time, although it is a bit frightening how leaders handled the situation, but the fact that fear caused an entire group of people to encourage the madness.

Fear is like a disease, if gone unchecked it will spread through a person’s entire body and move from one person to the next. In Salem, fear spread like a wildfire. Author Miller captures this atmosphere perfectly in The Crucible.

There is a lot to be learned from The Crucible, but I think the most important part is the danger that fear possesses. There is some sort of this mentality that what happened with the witch trials could never happen now, but if fear is still given the opportunity to consume us, then it’s hard to say what will happen. Most of the people involved in the trials of witches truly thought that the people they were eventually executing were witches. Fear kept the people of Salem from seeing reason. Everyone is at some point afraid. I’m not saying that being afraid of something is wrong, it’s actually completely normal. I’m saying that what people choose to do with that fear is what is important and in some cases dangerous.

The characters of The Crucible blamed others to remove blame from themselves, rather than verbalizing how ridiculous some of the accusations were. None of the characters realized that the people standing next to them were just as afraid of what was to come as they were. Had they all been open and honest instead of acting on their fear and lying to protect themselves, they might have been able to group together and put a stop to the madness before it started.

Fear is a completely normal and human emotion, but when it is fed and encouraged it can become an unpredictable monster. It can cause sane people to do seemingly insane things. It can cause a village to execute twenty people for being witches with no more proof than someone else’s word.



4 thoughts on “The Spread of Fear (The Crucible)

  1. Hey Janet. I really enjoyed this post. I especially enjoyed how you started the post. A good introduction is key and you do it exceptionally well. Not only do you inform the audience about a general attitude that people have toward the Salem Witch Trials, but you also give your opinion. This forces the reader to see it from two points of view which is challenging in a refreshing way. One thing I might consider is to read over your blog post before you post it. For example, you say that “danger than fear poses.” This doesn’t make sense. I think you were trying to say “danger that fear possesses.” Other than that, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Janet,
    I liked this post quite a bit. A small thing that impressed me was your use of diction. Your writing, and word choice, is very mature and sophisticated. Phrases like “encourage the madness” are particularly powerful and dignified. I also liked how you went to the root cause of the problem: fear. You developed the idea of fear and pointed out what was wrong about the Salem Witch Trials. I know the spread of fear is quite a serious thing, but maybe next time you could write something to lighten the mood a bit. Just a thought. Great Job 🙂


  3. Janet, I really liked your take away from “The Crucible.” Fear is so unpredictable. I like how you show how your perspective was changed by the book and use that to make your point about the book. I would agree with Christian’s suggestion to proof read a bit more because there were a few places that I had to reread a sentence because the phrasing was confusing or the wrong word was used. Maybe if you have someone else proofread some for you, it would help, because sometimes its hard to proofread your own papers because our brains tend to naturally correct things for us. Otherwise, I really enjoyed hearing your perspective on the book!


  4. Janet,
    Well done with the introduction. You briefly explained to us the historical background and what was going on with the leadership in order to help us understand the context in which the play was being written. Your use of analogy in comparing fear to disease and wildfire helps us understand how contagious fear and panic are. Great job coming to a conclusion at the end of your post, by stating that fear is not the issue, but what fear can turn us into. One thing to be careful about is some minor grammar/proofreading errors. Make sure to have someone else read over your writing in order to get rid of those pesky homonyms and missing words.
    Good Job Janet 🙂


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