What Drives The Crucible
Most of the people of Salem, Massachusetts feel that others are out to get them, and they seek revenge against neighbors who are doing nothing wrong. One reason for such vengeance seeking is suspicion, which makes them want to make a preemptive strike. Another is delusion, which causes many of them to call witchcraft on someone when something they cannot explain happens. One more is greed; a few of the citizens seek to gain their neighbor's land by having them arrested or killed. Most of the events in The Crucible are driven by suspicion, delusion, and greed.
The people of Salem are always minding everyone else's business. This predilection probably makes everyone suspicious of everyone else, and that suspicion creates the feelings of paranoia that made people seek "justice" against their neighbors when the neighbors had done nothing wrong. In Act I, the doctor believes witchcraft may be the reason that Betty is lying on the bed unresponsive. Susanna Walcott, the doctor's messenger, says, "He have been searchin' in his books since he left you, sir. But he bid me tell you, that you might look to unnatural things for the cause of it." But Reverend Parris denies it, trying to save his job when he says, "Let him look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here. There be none." And later he says, "Thomas, Thomas, I pray you, leap not to witchcraft! I know that you would never wish so disastrous a charge upon me! We cannot leap to witchcraft! They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my own house!" Delusion is another reason for people seeking such extreme punishment against others.
When the people of Salem see something they cannot explain, they call witchcraft. In Act II, Mary Warren tells the Proctors the story of one such delusion where Sarah Good "used witchcraft." She says: "So many time, Mr. Proctor, she come to this very door, beggin' for bread and a cup of cider – and mark this: whenever I turned her away, she mumbled. She once walked away mumbling, and I thought my guts would burst for two days after." However, the unexplainable is only one of the reasons these accusations happen, one of the others being greed.
Greed causes some of the men to accuse others of witchcraft so that the others will be arrested or killed, so they can claim the others' land. Thomas Putnam is one of the greediest of these men, accusing both the Proctors and the Coreys, both of whom have farms with lots of land. Giles Corey is then taken and interrogated with pressing to get the names of people that support him and John Proctor in claiming the trials to be a hoax and a waste of time. In Act. III, during the pressing, rather than give up names and break the trust he has with those men, he instead says his famous last words: "More weight." This honorable last act proves him to be a stubborn and enduring man.
The events in The Crucible tell the story of many innocent people who do nothing wrong, who fall victim to the suspicions, delusions, and greed of others during the mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Some were suspicious of others, and call witchcraft to protect themselves. Some are delusional and use witchcraft to explain the unexplainable. Some are greedy and accuse others only to get their land. These factors all drive the events of The Crucible.