The supernatural is real to the Salem townsfolk. They see evidence of God and evidence of the Devil everywhere. Yet nobody actually sees spirits -- though the girls claim they do. The play makes it clear that they are pretending. Their pretense may be a group psychological phenomenon, but in the world as the reader understands it, if there is a Devil, he’s not in Salem: there are only people – some good, some misled, some greedy, some jealous, some vengeful, some evil.
Questions About The Supernatural
- How do random events on earth – the inexplicable death of children, for example – determine the way the supernatural is conceived?
- Do these beliefs about the supernatural change during the course of the play? If not, why not? If yes, how and why?
- Do you think Miller portrays the townspeople as fools for their belief in things like invisible birds that try to attack the soul? In other words, what is Miller's perspective on the supernatural?
Chew on This
There are many moments in the play when Miller makes the people of Salem seem more stupid than was necessary for dramatic purposes.
Even though Rev. Hale starts out with a firm understanding of the supernatural, his knowledge is based on books. In Salem, he learns that there is evil, but it is not necessarily manifested in supernatural ways.