Mob Mentality In The Crucible Essay Prompts

Hysteria was a major factor in the many accusations of witchcraft that occurred throughout The Crucible.  It helps to understand what hysteria is--an overwhelming fear and excitement that overrides all logic, and is often enhanced and intensified by the presence of others who are acting out on that fear.  

Every time the girls in the play accuse someone of being a witch in court, hysteria played a role.  One girl would pretend to get cold, or see a spirit, or to be attacked by a spirit, and would cry out in fear and pain; the other girls, seeing her do that, caught the emotion like a contagious disease (which is how hysteria works), and would imagine they felt or saw the same things, or at least would react to the fear in the room.  Mary Warren herself, in speaking to the judges, explained how it all happened:  

"I--I heard the other girls screaming, and you, Your Honor, you seemed to believe them, and I--It were only sport in the beginning sir, but then the whole world cried spirits, spirits, and I--I promise you, Mr. Danforth, I only thought I saw them but I did not."

So, for a specific example of hysteria, you can look to the end of Act One. Here, Tituba starts naming people who might be witches, and is praised for it.  So, Abby figures this is her way out of getting in trouble, and starts naming names. By the end of the act, all of the girls have caught on and are hysterically crying out names.

Even better, the girls turn on Mary Warren in Act Three, pretending she is a little bird come to tear their eyes out.  Abigail leads the charge, and all of the other girls follow.  Pretty soon the emotion is so intense that Miller writes in the stage directions, 

"She and all the girls run to one wall, shielding their eyes.  And now, as though cornered, they let out a gigantic scream, and Mary, as though infected, opens her mouth and screams with them."

Note how Miller describes Mary's hysteria as an infection received from the other girls--that, right there, is hysteria.  So, Mary joins them, and eventually accuses Proctor of bewitching her, and the courts, once again, are ruled by hysterics instead of logic.

Here is a video about hysteria in The Crucible:

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Research Paper – Mob Mentality

Mob mentality can occur in any society. It can take place at any time, any day or any night. Mob mentality does not have a direct target. It will take over anyone, leaving them with no control over themselves. Mob mentality proves that under critical situations people will be selfish and follow others’ leads; however, the leads people usually follow are not the ones best for them. Due to large amounts of stress everyone carries, people do not think as clearly as they normally would. Those horrible leads that people choose to follow will eventually cause groups to become out of control. Violence usually ensues when within…show more content…

Thinking differently does not have to be a bad thing. While mob mentality can be destructive to one’s own life, it can also help it thrive. Confusion is a natural part of life. At some point in everyone’s life, they don't know what to do and when people do not know what to do in critical situations, they start to panic. Though, if someone else does know what to do, those who are confused will follow that person. Everyone will start to mimic the actions of whoever takes the lead. What starts as one or two people doing the same thing can turn into a mass group following just one person's lead. This is where mob mentality kicks in; most people do not question the actions of their leaders. They simply do as the person in charge does. When people don't understand, they get stressed out. When people are stressed, they don't think straight. In a state of confusion or fear, people tend to join forces, causing them to do the wrong things and follow the wrong leaders (Barnhart). They do not know what, when, or why they should do it. If a person is having a difficult time grasping concepts and ideas, they hold onto any example they can. Like those in The Crucible, the girls follow Abigail’s lead because they have absolutely no idea how to cope with the situation they are in, or they'll have to face the consequences. The young girls know that it's not a good decision to act the way Abigail

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