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Myth and heroes : Reading stories about the witch hunts in the 17th and 20th century, America makes us think if witch hunt are simply a myth in the past or do they continue today?

Dissertation : Myth and heroes : Reading stories about the witch hunts in the 17th and 20th century, America makes us think if witch hunt are simply a myth in the past or do they continue today?. Recherche parmi 298 000+ dissertations

Par   •  24 Avril 2019  •  Dissertation  •  1 837 Mots (8 Pages)  •  805 Vues

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Myth and heroes

I am going to talk about the notion : myth and heroes.

A myth is a legendary narrative passed on through oral or written tradition. It usually tells the story of heroic characters who often have a historical background. A myth explores ideas which may help a human become a better person and that are as relevant today as in the past. Reading stories about the witch hunts in the 17th and 20th century, America makes us think if witch hunt are simply a myth in the past or do they continue today?

In the first part, we will see witch hunting in Salem in 17th century in America. And in a second part we will discuss witch hunting and McCarthyism in 20th century. (I have chosen 2 documents to illustrate the notion of witch hunt : the first is an extract of the crucible by Arthur miller and the second an extract from « the McCarthy witch hunt » by Kevin Newman.)

First of all how can witch hunting be explained ? The early settler in US were puritans who had a very strict moral code. Anyone who didn’t meet the puritan standard was rejected. They also had a story belief in witches as the agents of the devil. Woman who were accused of being witches were made the scapegoats from everything went wrong in the community.

In Salem , Massachusetts some girls became strangely ill, because they couldn’t find physical reason they conclude they were under devil influence caused by witches. (In the witch hunt that followed 20 woman suspected of being witches were hanged.)

The first document «  Naming names » from Arthur miller is set in a historical period in Salem during witch hunt. The two males priests, reverent Hale and reverent Parris are questioning tituba a black slaves woman. It focus on the issue of racial prejudice and drows our attention to the fact that woman were inequal in that society, so were the easy targets of a witch hunt. However Tituba, who is the hero of this myth makes us question the prejudice that rejected people who don’t fit our standards. (Tituba suggests ironically that even white people belong to the devil, and even those who seem to be « goody good » ), her role of hero underline that we should consider all people equal.

Then we will see that similarly in 20th century in USA the fear of communism produced a witch hunt , under McCarthy and Hoover. Hoover was the director of FBI, (he was convinced that they was a communist conspiracy to overthrow the US government.) (Us senator McCarthy claimed to have a list of communists and thousand of American were accused of being communists sympathizers.)

However like in Salem, anybody who held different views, were alleged to be communist such as actors, directors : the Hollywood blacklist. Let’s take the case of the second text : « 12 names » an extract from the McCarthy witch hunt , in which we again see a woman interrogated by two man from FBI ,  who accused her to belong to a communist circle. Like tituba , Mrs Steven has to denounce 12 names if she wants to get free. This episode is a myth which exposes intolerance and the fear of different ideas  and Mrs Steven , an innocent person is made a scapegoat : we can compare her to a hero as she refuses to give names.

To conclude we have seen in the 2 extracts a response to fear of difference , both in the Salem witch hunt in 1692 , and the red scare which led to a witch hunt in the 50’s. In each case , prejudice create scapegoat who were hunted down . The myths we have read set in those historical time periods shows us trough the eyes of heroes a better response to those fears.

Today we see the same thing opening in trump’s policy towards immigrants trying to cross the Mexican border

Therefor we can conclude that witch hunt are not simply a mith of the past but have relevance today.

Places and forms of power

I am going to talk about the notion : places and forms of power

First of all I’d like to give a definition of the notion : the power generally implies a basic division between those who have and exercice power and those who have none or little of it , the power helps to create social cohesion on one hand, and reveals quite clearly the conflicts and tensions existing within the group on the other hand. Witches and witch hunts  reveal exercice of power by domination , inequality , resistance , authority. Does the witch hunt in America show the exercise of domination only in the 17th century?

In the first part, we will see witch hunting in Salem in 17th century in America. And in a second part we will discuss witch hunting and McCarthism in 20th century. (I have chosen 2 documents to illustrate the notion of witch hunt : the first is an extract of the crucible by Arthur miller and the second an extract from « the McCarthy witch hunt » by Kevin Newman.)

First of all:  How can this with hunting in 17th can be explain? The early settler in US were puritans who had a very strict moral code. Anyone who didn’t meet the puritan standard was rejected. They also had a story belief in witches as the agents of the devil. Woman who were accused of being witches were made the scapegoats from everything went wrong in the community.

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