Examples of Hysteria in ‘The Crucible’: Lies’ Domino Effect

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Examples of Hysteria in ‘The Crucible’: Lies’ Domino Effect

This essay analyzes the theme of hysteria in Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.” It examines how the fear and paranoia of witchcraft in Salem lead to a domino effect of lies and false accusations. The piece explores key examples of hysteria and its consequences on individual characters and the wider community. It also discusses Miller’s use of the Salem witch trials as an allegory for the McCarthy era, drawing parallels between the irrational fear of communism and witchcraft. The overview highlights the dangers of mass hysteria and the role of societal pressures in fueling irrational behavior. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of Crime.

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The Destructive Power of Deceit: Abigail’s Web of Lies in ‘The Crucible

Imagine being accused of a crime that you did not commit. While in custody, the interrogators asked for your confession, and you would be allowed free or not to confess and be placed in jail. What would you do in this situation? In The Crucible, Arthur Miller describes the events that took place during 1692-1693 in Massachusetts, which later became known as the Salem Witch Trials. They were a series of witchcraft accusations that ultimately hanged innocent people for false claims against each other.

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Therefore, the theme in The Crucible is that lies can create universal truths without evidence.

In The Crucible, it was evident that creating lies led to many people getting punished, and because of this, many began to circulate their own lies to protect themselves. An example of this came from Abigail when she said, “Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night, and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you” (Miller 19). In this situation, Abigail uses violence to keep her friends from telling the village that she conjured a spirit to kill Elizabeth Proctor. Her experiences and knowledge of witchcraft only instilled fear in her friends.

Examples of Mass Hysteria in ‘The Crucible’: Proctor’s Dilemma and the Weight of False Accusations

Arthur Miller wanted people to remember what had happened in the past during the Salem Trials, so he wrote The Crucible to preserve its history and to also incorporate his real-life example during the McCarthy Trials. During a trial in court, John Proctor explains, “I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud. I am not that man. She is silent. My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothing’s spoiled by giving them this lie that was not rotten long before” (Miller 126). By confessing to witchcraft, Proctor believes that he will no longer be a good person because of his false confession. He also thinks that if he dies, he will be considered strong for not giving in to the false accusations.

The main message in The Crucible is that gossip and, ultimately, lying can influence people to believe false information, but we need to realize that for those actions, there are also equal consequences. During an intense interrogation, Judge Danforth asks, “Look at me! To your own knowledge, has John Proctor ever committed the crime of lechery? Answer my question! Is your husband a lecher! No, sir” (Miller 105). This was a critical step in the trial because it made John Proctor seem like a liar. She later realizes that if she had told the truth, then the court would have placed Abigail under tight scrutiny, and ultimately, she would have faced the consequences.

The Ripple Effect in ‘The Crucible’: How One Lie Can Unravel a Community

In conclusion, the main idea in The Crucible is that lying can create mass hysteria. Lies and deceit start to occur when Abigail comes up with a plan to protect herself from lies because she doesn’t want to get in trouble for dancing in the woods when John Proctor decides to lie about committing witchcraft because he thinks that it will save his life, and ultimately when Elizabeth lies in the court to protect John’s name and reputation. The trials in The Crucible show how just one simple lie can lead to many people facing the consequences for it.


  1. Miller, Arthur. “The Crucible.” Penguin Classics, 2003.
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Examples of Hysteria in 'The Crucible': Lies' Domino Effect. (2023, Aug 08). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/examples-of-hysteria-in-the-crucible-lies-domino-effect/