Hysteria the citizens living in Salem of speaking

Hysteria is described as an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear and many psychologists believe that it was a significant cause of the historical events of the Salem Witch Trials, as explained in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, and the Holocaust. The play begins with a group of young girls and Abigail along with Tituba who says she knows voodoo magic. The group gathers in the forest to they dance and Betty becomes afraid of what could happen. She acts out in hysterics which leads to rumors about what really happened in the forest that night– the whole town is lead to believe these are acts of witchcraft. In fear of the severe consequences, the girls began to accuse the citizens living in Salem of speaking to the devil– which puts one to death in Puritan society. An increasing amount of citizens were being accused of these acts which caused an outbreak of hysteria among the town; which is similar to the events of the Holocaust from 1933-1945 when Hitler murdered millions of Jews and other innocent people. The Holocaust has many comparisons to The Crucible including similarities between the cause of the events, the imbalance of power between the leaders and the public as well as the endings of both The Crucible and the Holocaust. Many believe hysteria was one cause of both historical events. When the girls and Tituba gathered in the forest “the girls were experimenting with one of Tituba’s voodoo fortune telling tricks… and she immediately flew into hysterics.” Betty was most likely just afraid of everything that was going on but, as rumors spread about what really occurred in the forest, many believed her acting out had to do with some sort witchcraft. In comparison, Hitler believed in antisemitism and he wanted to “purify the German Aryan race. He used the power of the government to organize mass murder of those who were considered impure for his race”(History.com). Many Germans believed in Hitler and his ideas which created mass hysteria and the belief that Jews are a threat to the purity of the German race and the prevention of racial intermixing. He also put blame on the Jews for Germany’s loss in World War 1 and persuaded the public to believe this as well, which lead to the murder of millions of innocent Jews by Hitler and the Nazis. He was able to convince the public to help him carry out his plans for mass murder as more and more people continued to believe in him causing mass hysteria as well. Abigail and Hitler are similar in that they both had too much authority over others and an imbalance in power between them and the public. Hitler convinced the public that the world would be better off without Jews and Abigail convinced Salem that citizens participated in witchcraft. They were both responsible for innocent deaths because Abigail could accuse one of witchery and they could be killed and Hitler chose those who he thought did not deserve to live executed people based on his beliefs with little interference. When one person is given enough power to control popular opinion and sway it in direction of their favor it allows them the power to control popular opinions. Abigail accused innocents of witchcraft as reasoning for the events occurring around them while Hitler blamed Jews for the failure of the German economy and the loss in World War 1. Overall, having too much power over others was a similarity between the Nazi leader Hitler and Abigail from the play.  The Salem Witch Trials described in The Crucible and the Holocaust came to an end once the hysteria was silenced. Reverend Parris says towards the end of the play that, “These people have great weight yet in the town. Let Rebecca stand upon the gibbet and send up some righteous prayer and I feel she’ll wake vengeance on you”(Miller 127). The next morning John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse are supposed to be hanged but many recognize that both are well known and respected in town. Many can begin to see that these people cannot be guilty of witchcraft. This puts an end to the hysteria among the citizens in Salem. In the Holocaust, Hitler realized during the war that “Germany had already lost to the allied powers, and they were being closed in on”(United States memorial museum). Hitler knew it was only a matter of time before they discovered the concentration camps and killed him, so he took his own life. Once Hitler committed suicide Germany realized that Hitler was wrong because even with the purification of the superior Aryan race, they still were unable to win the war against the allied powers. Once the camps were closed and people were released, the hysteria faced by prisoners (and the Germans who were influenced by Hitler’s beliefs) was lost and people no longer lived in fear. Overall, both events reached the breaking point when the mass hysteria ended.     The Holocaust has many comparisons to The Crucible including similarities between the cause of the events, the imbalance of power between the leaders and the public as well as the comparisons between the ending of both The Crucible and the Holocaust. This is an important connection to show because it proves that although these events are completely different, some aspects show that history does repeat itself. As time goes on history is bound to repeat itself but its humanities job to prevent this as best we can by studying and teaching it. 


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