Nineteen innocent men and women were hung, and one was crushed to death at the end of the Salem Witch Trials in 1962. Salem was a small town in Massachusetts that was filled with people that shared the same Puritan beliefs and lived a modest lifestyle. Although some differed from their occupation or class, religion was the one factor that united all Puritans together. Puritans were known for their strict laws and code of ethics that prohibited any type of act that took away from God. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a play that uses both truth and fiction to illustrate the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Chaos and hysteria consumed Salem for months while innocent people were getting convicted and sentenced to death. Reasons such as religion, abuse of power, and jealousy all contributed to the cause and longevity of the witch trials.
By believing in Puritanism, the people of Salem had particular fears and ideals engrained in their minds that clouded their judgment. Before the play begins, the narrator states that, "The virgin forest was the Devil's last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand. To the best of their knowledge the American forest was the last place on earth that was not paying homage to God" (Miller 5). When the community discovered that the girls had been dancing in the forest, this dramatically changed the course of events because of all places, the forest was the most un-holy and devil infested place to be in. If Reverend Paris found them elsewhere the outcome of these trials could have been prevented by just a whipping punishment for dancing. When Hale visits the Proctor house to question him about his faith, Proctor asks, "It may be I have been too quick to bring the man to book, but you cannot think we ever desired the destruction of religion. I think that's in your mind, is it not" (66)? On top of worrying about the witch arrests, John Proctor now has to suffer the nuisance of having is faith questioned in his own house because Hale has doubts.