The Crucible

Published: 2021-07-09 11:05:04
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Category: Psychology

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Brian Chapman Mr.. Horn Honors English II 10/28/14 Tragic Decision Making Alter the Witch Hunt Decision making can either make or break someone. The Salem Witch Trials consisted of many false accusations and unnecessary deaths. Arthur Miller portrayed the symptoms of “corrupting’, written by Irvin Janis, during the course of The Crucible. Janis’ article explores the psychology of decision making among a group. The major symptoms that seem to manifest The Crucible are self-censorship, pressure, and mudguards. Self-censorship is a common symptom of “corrupting” shown throughout Miller’s play.
For instance, while John proctor is frustrated about the accusations made against his wife, Elizabeth, Hale hesitates but must stand his ground and keep his opinions to himself. Miller writes, “Proctor:… There are them that will swear to anything before they II hang have you never thought of that? Hale: I have. I?I have. It is his own suspicion, but he resists” (Miller 1303). Proctor seems to not understand that all accusations must be acted on and Hale must do his job as a Reverend, despite the outcome. Hale hides his suspicions by keeping his doubts to himself, therefore, exhibiting elf-censorship.
Supporting Miller’s example, Janis describes the symptom itself. “Corrupting” states, “avoid deviating from what appears to be group consensus; they keep silent about their misgivings… Minimizes the importance of their doubts” (Janis). Unexpressed doubt avoids conflict to maintain the apparent majority rule. Clearly, Hale keeps silent, making his opinion a minority to the group’s decision. Although, self-censorship is a significant symptom expressed, some characters in The Crucible portray unanimity. In addition, pressure is frequently seen among the victims during the Salem
Witch Trials. The hysteria throughout the trials gave everyone the adrenaline necessary to spill the beans. During all of the stirred commotion, Abigail threatens the other girls, “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and will come to you in the black of some terrible night and will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you” (Miller 1268). Abigail is pressuring the other victims of Tuba’s act of witchcraft, including Betty, to keep their experiences with the Devil to themselves.
She emends for all the girls to uphold their secret of witchcraft among themselves and no one else. Supporting Abigail compelling words, Janis describes pressure as well. Victims of pressure “apply direct pressure to any individual who momentarily expresses doubt… Or who questions the validity Of the arguments supporting a policy alternative favored by the majority” (Janis). In this case, someone with even a sense of doubt is likely to be pressured to protect the majority rule. Therefore, Abigail pressures the others in order to protect herself because if one goes down, they all go down.
Pressure may be a crucial symptom contributing to the Salem Witch Trials; however, mudguards tend to do whatever it takes to knock down the opposition. Mudguards, a symptom of “corrupting”, tend to stand strong against opposing parties in order to protect the group. Case in point, trying to save his wife, Martha, Giles Corey storms into the courtroom with information. Miller scripts, “Giles’ voice, roaring: have evidence for the court… Detonator’s voice: You will keep your seat! Giles’ voice: Thomas Putnam is reaching out for land! Detonator’s voice: Remove that man, Marshal” (Miller 1 315).
Even though Giles has evidence that could prove Marsh’s innocence, Detonator rejects it. Detonator acts as a mudguard by knocking down the opposition which in this case is Giles. Similar to Detonator’s actions, Janis explains the symptom of mudguards. Janis elaborates, “to protect the leader… From adverse information that might break complacency’ (Janis). In other words, mudguards defend the group from anything and anyone that might disrupt the contentment within the group. Protecting the accuser and the judge, Detonator avoids any complications during the trial by avoiding any opposition.

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