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The early Puritan society was doomed to become an infamous page in American history from the very beginning. Their strict beliefs and ways of living controlled their lives in too many ways. The Crucible is a good example of how their beliefs got in the way of everyday life. Of the beliefs that are reflected in the play The Crucible, the strong religious beliefs of the citizens, the restrictions on “fun” and the work ethic all play a huge part of the development of the plot. The citizens of the village were very religious; perfection was the only way to achieve salvation. No one can be truly perfect, but John Proctor was the closest thing to it. He committed one sin in all of his life and considered himself a bad person. On the contrary, most of the other citizens committed sins almost every day of their life and thought nothing of it. Almost all of the plaintiffs in the play were sinners and the judge thought them pure as a spring flower. The townspeople went to church on every Sabbath, rain or shine. They thought God would love them for this. John didn’t go very often because he lived outside of the town, but that didn’t stop the citizens from accusing him of not loving Jesus. He explained to them that he worshiped inside of his home on every Sunday, but some people still accused him of compacting with the Devil. When the court was formed, Judge Danforth took his literal comprehension of the Bible and judged based on that interpretation. Not many questioned the rulings of the Judge, because they thought that God’s hand must have made him able to settle the matters that had arisen. The Puritan people were not allowed to have any fun as one does today. They feared pleasure and lack of control. Dancing, drinking and reading was generally not tolerated. When the girls said they were dancing in the woods, the town was taken aback. The society believed that if one was to dance, then they were doing something God had not intended the human body to be used for. After Parris finds the girls in the woods he asks Abigail, “And what shall I say to them? That my daughter and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest?” Abigail replies “Uncle, we did dance; let you tell them that I confessed it–and I’ll be whipped if I must be.” This is a superb example of how the beliefs of the Puritans did not condone such behavior. Children were to be seen, not heard, and adults were to act like they were perfect and in fact had to be perfect. Dancing showed that the girls had too much free time and couldn’t control their whims in the eyes of the society.

Giles Corey’s wife was killed because Giles told Hale that she read strange books. He says “Martha, my wife. I have walked at night many a time and found her in a corner, readin’ of a book. Now what do you make of that?” That statement cost Martha her life. Most literature, unless it was the Bible, was frowned upon. Literature encouraged independent thinking, and no “civilized” society ever questioned authority. Independent people were thought to be secretly speaking with the devil. If they didn’t follow God’s will then they worshiped Satan. Bridget Bishop, who ran the local tavern, sold alcohol to the town and consequently people got drunk. This drunkenness showed a lack of control in the people of the town. The Puritans feared lack of control and thought it a work of the Devil. These fears led to the outbreak of witchcraft. The Puritan work ethic was probably the biggest factor in the outbreak of witchcraft hysteria. The men spent all day out in the fields planting and caring for the farm. It is known that the region they lived in was very inhospitable to crops. The farmers had to have been so concerned and uptight with the well-being of the farm that anything could have set them off. If the farm wasn’t doing well, then the work of the devil was rampant. And the opposite is also true; if the crop is good then God blessed them that year. John is very proud of his farm and it shows when he is talking to Elizabeth. He says, “If the crop is good I’ll buy George’s heifer. How would that please you?” This shows that no matter how hard one man works to get the most out of his land, the land restricts the final outcome. John works very hard on his farm, yet he can’t ever be certain about the outcome of the crop. This has got to be very stressful, never knowing whether or not the family will have enough to get by in for the harsh winter. These are just a few of the many beliefs that made the outbreak possible. The reflection of these beliefs in the people of Salem, show just what kind of life the Puritans had to have led. Since they were new to the Americas, and needed a very structured life, therefore this outbreak was bound to happen. A colony is not where these ideas of a structured life so rigid and unchangeable, should run rampant.


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