Discuss the role that Grudges and personal rivalries play in the witch trial hysteria.
George Downes 10A1
The trials in The Crucible take place in a very religious and superstitious society, and most of the characters in the play seem to believe that rooting out witches from their community is God’s work. However, there are feuds and rivalries in the Salem that have nothing to do with religion, and many people of Salem took advantage of the trials to release old grudges and get revenge on their competitor.
Abigail has a grudge against Elizabeth Proctor because Elizabeth fired her after she found that Abigail was having an affair with her husband, John Proctor. As the leader of the girls whose “visions” started the witch craze, Abigail jumps on the chance to accuse Elizabeth and have her sent to jail (presumable to then get closer to Proctor). At the same time, Reverend Parris, a paranoid man, begins the play with a precarious hold on his place, and the trials help him to gain more power in his position within the village by making scapegoats of people like Proctor who question his authority and are a threat to him.
Along side the minor characters, the wealthy, ambitious Thomas Putnam has a strong grudge against Francis Nurse for many reasons: Nurse stopped Putnam’s brother-in-law from being elected to the Salem ministry, and Nurse is also they have a bitter land dispute with one of Putnam’s relatives. In the end, Rebecca, Francis’s wife, is convicted of the devilous murders of Ann Putnam’s dead babies. This resulted in the Putnams not only putting Rebecca jailed but also gain some horrible satisfaction for the horror and tragedy of seven stillbirths.
The strange searching for “justice” shows the typical ways that many of the people of Salem approach the witch trials, as an opportunity to gain true relief for old arguments by convincing themselves that their rivals are beyond wrong, that they are in conjuring with the devil.
Abigails violent hatred for...