The Crucible

“It’s not on a boat we’ll meet again, Abigail, but in Hell.”

John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) faces scrutiny by the Salem locals when a group of young girls in the town start accusing his wife – and others – of practicing witchcraft.

Salem’s Problem
Historical fiction, The Crucible features some real-life personalities assuming fictional roles. The most bizarre part of the entire story takes into account that no one truly understands why the Salem Witch Trials even occurred. Taking the advice of a group of teenaged girls, local officials hung those suspected of witchcraft. Eventually, they got bored or something and they stopped. Between the pages of the chaos, most parties agree that the ringleader of the witch gang seemed to be young Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder).

While Abigail is portrayed monstrously in The Crucible, this is still a work of fiction that supports historical truths. Rather than pinpoint a possible little harlot (and let’s be real here, John Proctor was ALSO a fucking harlot), let’s consider what the Salem dwellers could have been smoking that led to this witchy obsession in the first place.

Mass Hysteria
Amidst fungal bread and the suggestion that witches are real, this is my favorite explanation for the Salem Witch Trials. Mass hysteria describes a collective belief, based on falsehoods, that something is happening. It’s a bit like a shared delusion that applies to an entire group of people.

Historical context suggests that Abigail and her cronies were the sources of the witch-happy Salem folk. Tituba (Charlayne Woodard) was also a real figure in the trials and she admitted to her role in teaching the girls how to summon the devil. One possible note about this is offered by The Crucible in the idea that Tituba may have been tortured or coerced into admitting her role. With the acknowledgement of Tituba’s crime, Abigail and the other girls were given free rein to play-act their possession until you know, they got bored.

Kids, am I right?

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