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The Crucible Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Crucible.
This section contains 749 words
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Themes

Mass Hysteria

Mass hysteria is the spontaneous manifestation of similar hysterical symptoms by a group. The Salem witch trials are a notable example in history of this occurrence, and thematically, it is central to the plot of The Crucible. Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology which examines how ordinary people can typically gain direct power by acting collectively. The correlations between psychological mind control and coercion are central in The Crucible, as it is through these means that Abigail Williams convinces a group of seemingly innocent village girls to convict their neighbors, friends and foes to execution for witchcraft.

Arthur Miller uses the theme of mass hysteria in the Salem witch trials to criticize the American government and particularly the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Second Red Scare in the United States. Miller's play is not overt in its metaphor of McCarthyism, because to have...

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This section contains 749 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Crucible Study Guide
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The Crucible from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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