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The story of Abigail Williams
In the play Las Brujas de Salem written by the American playwright Arthur Miller in 1953, based on the judgments of Salem witches of the late seven village. This work is parallel to the situation of the United States in the 1950s, known as the "the second red fear", in which the accusations of communism led to a hysteria and fear at the national level.
The work embodies a Puritan community that with a patriarchal vision in which people lose their individuality, perspectives and beliefs, since they are altered by a crowd. Therefore, this essay through the transformation in the characters when they are exposed to collective hysteria will demonstrate how a society so quickly dominated by hysteria can disintegrate; When overwhelming the logic and individual thinking of individuals causing them to commit immoral and irrational actions.
In Salem’s Puritan Society, young women like Abigaíl are helpless until they get married. Abigaíl is a perpetrator character and a victim at the same time, since although her lies have led to false accusations; She should be noted that she is a victim of love and the rejection of Propctor, she is also a victim of Parris and her insults, and the patriarchy in the society she lives. Therefore, Abigaíl accuses Proctor of having removed her virginity with her innocence, but she has not overcome her adventure with him and does it because she wants proctor to be of herself and, if she is not with her she does not want it with nobody.
This love becomes a secret desire for revenge to remove Elizabeth Proctor’s wife with whom she chooses to stay with. That said, the point that Abigaíl attacks others with her emotions shows high levels of hysteria in her, as in her response to Parris "hates me; Without a doubt, uncle, because I didn’t want to be his slave. She is a cruel woman, a liar, insensitive, crying woman, and I don’t want to work for such a woman."In the use of Miller in word as" liar "," insensitive ", and" cruel "to describe Elizabeth demonstrates the hatred that Abigaíl develops for the jealousy she has to Elizabeth.
For Abigaíl’s hysteria, she arrives at the point of stabbing with a needle in the abdomen and blaming Elizabeth of murder attempt at the same time as witchcraft. With the power that she has legacked for the trials, she is under her command and the other girls who make false accusations, in being able to ruin the lives of those who want them, regardless of their status. The practices of lies impudently of Abigaíl show that she took advantage of the judgments for personal benefit and revenge. With this, Miller seeks to express the message that individuals, such as Abigaíl, who seek greater freedom become a threat to the status of religious and political.
In addition, jealousy and greed of the Putnam. On the side Tomás Putnam awaits Francis Nurse since Nurse "had figured in the faction that prevented Bayley’s appointment" (Miller, 20), his brother -in -law, was chosen for the position of minister. While Ana Putnam, who had 8 and only survives Ruth, accuses Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft, since she is convinced that she is the culprit of the death of her children.
Although Rebecca Nurse was a woman of respect with a high reputation in her town this did not prevent her from acknowledging the effects of hysteria. Consequently, Tomás Putnam who partly for religious obligation is involved in hysteria, he ends up creating rumors of witchcraft at the same time accepting and spreading hysteria for his personal enrichment with the opportunity to gain land. This shows that Miller seeks to deepen that he makes people abandon personal loyalties in those moments.
Another character that was influenced by hysteria was Judge Danforth, convinced that he is doing the right thing to eradicate witchcraft he sees himself as an honest and scrupulous man. At least in his own mind. The system that involved the trial was very brutal, even to say in full judgment, “a person is with this court or if it should not be considered against him, there are no average terms.”(Miller, 68) insinuating that he who is in trial and does not believe in court decisions is guilty of being complicit in witchcraft.
However, Danforth is the most deceived character of the work despite his prestige. Danforth because he wanted the judgments to end quickly and in the way he fools. If they were not because of ignorance within the Danforth system justice in the trials would have taken better and hysteria would not develop in the town of Salem because the truth would come to light. Although today, the judgments of the Salem witches look like an idea that causes laughter, this situation and more specific the character Danforth reflects the time when many believed in witches.
This indicates how social pressure reaches the most powerful people in the city demonstrating their great power and influence in society. By using this motive Miller makes a paradox to the judge of the second red terror, Joseph McCarthy, at the same time in the way that society worked in the United States during 1950’s, since just as Salme forgot the importance of being fair and moral for fit into the rules and social pressure. Thus shows the reason why Danforth condemns those who are not affected by such social pressure that was emphasized by collective hysteria to death. So, Danforth for denying accepting the truth because this would humiliate him prefer to see people from representing the evil of blind certainty.
Hysteria is, therefore, the source of the development of the controversy of Salem and has an effect throughout the city because it causes the repressed internal resentment and the hostility of the protagonists to the surface in the form of accusations. Abigaíl accuses Elizabeth Murder Proctor, and Tomás and Ana Putnam suspect that Rebecca Nurse murders her children, which are hysterically controlled. But hysteria also blinded characters such as Judge Danforth, who sacrifices justice and reason, making religion, which should provide a moral and ethical model, is fed by emerging fear and hysteria.
Arthur Miller uses the power of social pressure and the norms to lay the foundations of his writing. We see that the members of society in Salem have been limited and forced to live a way of life in which they do not enjoy, since the value of a pleasant life free of vain joy stands out. Hysteria in Salem witches promoted collectivism instead of individualism, since or significantly it had led to the increase in collective hysteria.
Ignorance and superstition between the Salem community were responsible for hysteria produced in witch trials, and since fear became an important reason for the behavior of the protagonists of the Salem witches, hysteria also exists in Our media today, eclipse. Hysteria, as it did in the past, is a key catalyst for reckless behavior in many areas of society.
- Study by José de Segovia. (2015, January 27). The Salem witches: Arthur Miller and the American dream.
- Collective hysteria: what is and how it occurs. (2017, October 31).
- McCarthy. (n.d.).
- Miller, a. C., & Vergel Alberto González. (2007). Witches of Salem. Madrid: Spanish Theater.