Miller’s presentation of the society

Miller portrays Abigail as a vindictive young woman that wants her own way at all costs. With this illustration of the girl, it is easy to understand how people had been tricked into seeing truth in her fabrications. However, it is not just Abigail to blame for the witch hunt, Miller is also careful to point out that with Abigail’s strength of mind, many others in the town are incredibly weak in will power. It is this weakness which is equally responsible for the death of the innocent.

The girls, however, did not start with the intention of murdering people. Their only aim was not to be hanged for witchcraft, soon, though, they realized the position of power they were in. It was made perfectly clear the entire town was unhappy for one reason or another, and many people were able to use the girls power to their advantage: Mr. Putnam manipulated his own daughter into accusing Goody Nurse because of his wife’s jealousy towards her. Miller portrays the people of Salem as vain, proud people, and many of them feel they had suffered injustices.

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The arrival of a witch-hunt soothed injured pride, and at first appeared to be causing no harm: it was just clearing the town of the undesirables, drunks, beggars. With nothing at stake, it is easy to see why the girls’ stories were believed. Then people of higher status were brought in: Danforth, Hale etc These people knew nothing of the personal scores to be settled, only that the girls were credited so far. By the time the girls’ stories got out of hand, the pride of the town enabled the girls’ to be believed.

It was impossible for Danforth to believe that he, a supposedly intelligent man, had been duped by a group of girls. “… witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face and by its nature, an invisible crime, is it not? Therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The witch and the victim. None other. Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims – and they do testify, the children certainly do testify”. Pride is also the reason for the death of innocent people in an entirely different manner.

Proctor knew the Abigail had never seen a witch, but he was too proud to acknowledge her and so left her to face the consequences. Proctor only acknowledged Abigail at the risk of losing his wife. Eventually the girls ran away from Salem, so effectively their stories were never doubted. As in the parallel with the MacCarthy witch-hunts the accusations of the girls were preying on already existing fears. The girls were considered to be telling the truth because that is what people wanted to hear.