Manipulation Using Fear The Crucible Final Assessment -- By Madison Torres

People can use fear to manipulate a specific community or other people to accomplish their goals. This has been shown in "The Crucible" and current events where governments or specific political parties have used fear to persuade others to believe that an opposing community is putting them in danger.

Everyone is afraid of something.

This is widely known, and because of how controlled a community can become based on their fears alone, it’s not hard to understand that people have knowingly used fear to manipulate others and get what they want. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, characters such as Reverend Parris, Abigail, and the other girls who claim to be afflicted by witchcraft use their community’s fear of the Devil and devotion to religion to prompt hysteria so they could reach their goals easily. Those same intentions are still shown in today’s society, but instead of fearing witchcraft, we fear the safety of ourselves as well as that of people important to us. Using fear to persuade others to take action is an example of psychological manipulation and is used in everyday political propaganda.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a play based on the events of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. During this time, the total of nineteen citizens were hanged after being accused of witchcraft in a town built on religion. Abigail Williams, the character who had led many girls to accuse as many as twenty three people of witchcraft, began accusing others of witchcraft to reach a personal goal. As it was mentioned in the play many times, she and John Proctor, a farmer who lived in Salem himself, had an affair which had ended shortly after they’d been found out by Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth. After tricking her slave, Tituba, into performing a ritual that was used to attempt murder, she went along with her uncle’s claims of witchcraft and accused people who got in the way of what she wanted.

Abigail wanted to reach many different goals, but the most prominent of those is that she wanted to have John Proctor for herself. Despite his attempts to deter her, she obsessed after him far after their affair had ended and went as far as accusing his wife of witchcraft so she would be executed. This is best shown during one of the last scenes of Act III, where Proctor confesses to lechery in a frantic attempt to save he and his wife's lives.

"In the proper place—where my beasts are bedded. On the last night of my joy, some eight months past. She used to serve me in my house, sir. And being what she is, a lump of vanity. . . She thinks to dance with me on my wife's grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore's vengeance, and you must see it now." (III.374-384)

An example of one using fear to reach their goals in today's society can be exemplified in the 2016 Presidential Election. In the election, many debates were held against the two leading Republican and Democratic parties to further explain their campaigning ideas. Within these debates, questions regarding America’s jobs, safety, and general well being were common topics. The two candidate’s jobs were to persuade the citizens of America to vote for them, and while one way to win over votes was to promise a fulfilling, safe country to it’s citizens, another tactic used was evoking fear. With all that is going on in the world today, it’s not surprising to see that a candidate's argument involves promising protection against terrorists. However, some candidates such as Donald Trump used these understandable concerns to push people to vote, saying that their country would be vulnerable under Hillary Clinton's possible presidency. Many times he strengthened his arguments by blaming certain ethnic or religious groups on the problems that America faces today, as shown in the video advertisement below.

This is also shown in an article published by The Atlantic titled "Donald Trump and the Politics of Fear", where journalist Molly Ball states that "polls show majorities of Americans worried about being victims of terrorism and crime" (Ball, The Atlantic). Trump attempted to invoke fear upon his supporters by says things such as “countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders”. By making these claims, Donald Trump used America's fear to gain votes and complete a successful election campaign.

Although the circumstances of these situations are very different (since an election is definitely not comparable to a witch trial that resulted in many deaths), they both show examples of a person in power using fear within a community to influence others. By blaming issues on others instead of facing them together, both citizens of America today as well as the fictional characters in The Crucible have allowed others to control some aspects of their lives, no matter how big or how small.

If people continue to be motivated by fear, they will eventually make bad decisions that they will regret later, once they realize that they don't have to be afraid. To conclude, people should not let fear control them and should become aware enough to realize when they are being manipulated. If people continue to let fear drive them to make important decisions, where it be deciding who is fit for presidency or who is guilty of witchcraft, people will come to realize they are being controlled when it is too late to change what's been done.

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