“With Reference to Historical Context, Characterisation and Performance, Discuss the Use of Tension-Building Techniques in Act 2 of ‘The Crucible'” “Crucible – A vessel in which metals are heated to an extremely high temperature, melted down and purified” – that is what the dictionary says about a crucible. That one sentence is basically a pri?? cis of the emotion that occurs in The Crucible; it describes what happens to people’s feelings throughout the play: they reach a high temperature and become purified Abigail and the girls lived in a puritan society.
That means that their whole lives were ruled by God and the teachings in the Bible. If you did anything out of the ordinary, it was considered blasphemous. In the world of Salem, the existence of witches was rarely questioned, so any un-puritan behaviour was considered as witchery. Everybody in the society did things the way they were told by ministers of the church, everybody did as the Bible said and everybody tried to keep their lives and actions pure. However this was very difficult, and this was where complications arose in the society. E. g.
If you frequently missed Sunday church, you were accused of being in allegiance with Lucifer, “I note that you are rarely in church on Sabbath Day. ” (53, Act 2) In January 1692, Abigail Williams and other girls were found dancing and drinking blood, in the woods, by Reverend Samuel Parris, “my daughter and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest. ” (7, Act1) The girls were worried that they would be accused of witchcraft, so to divert the attention from themselves, they started saying that they were being attacked by other members of the village who were witches.
In total, there were 200 accusations, resulting in 19 people hanged as witches, (and 2 dogs) and a further 5 people died in prison. One explanation for this strange behaviour which caused them to be accused of witchery is that the girls were actually tacking drugs, which caused them act strangely and see things which weren’t there. Ergot is a fungus, which grows on the staple grain crop rye, when it was discovered in the 50s, by the scientist Albert Hoffman, people started to embrace this new drug, and then the 60s psychedelic revolution began, with LSD.
But just because it wasn’t discovered until the late 50s, doesn’t mean its affects were not known, the earliest example of an ergot victim is Grauballe Man, a body found in Denmark, where remains date back to 2100BC. From the evidence found, it looks like he was killed because his tribe mates thought him possessed or bewitched. So does this mean that what happened in Salem was down to ergotism? Well, it is clear from records discovered that the previous summer (the events in Salem started in January) that they had the perfect weather for ergot growth, which they would have been eating at the time these events occurred.
Prior to this, everyone thought that this was all down to mass hysteria, but surely ergot isn’t just to blame, it may have been that that started the events off, causing them to dance in the forest, but surely we cannot blame a middle-age form of LSD on all of their actions for the 10 months following that. I believe that a more plausible explanation would be that in the world of Salem, in which the existence and powers of demons and devils were rarely questioned, unexplainable events were often attributed to witchcraft.
So if the children made the townsfolk believe that they were being attacked by witches, the town would naturally believe “the victim”. After all, witchcraft is an invisible crime, and we don’t expect the witches to confess to witchery, so we must expect the victims to tell us. So were these events down to clinical hysteria? Or, were they in fact down to jealousy and greed. Well it would seem so, that the girls were accusing the women of the town for things that they wanted, like Abigail accusing Goody Proctor so she could have John. (Whom she previously had an affair with.