Distinction Between The Crucible and The Phantom Slasher of Taiwan In 1956, there was a time when the people in Northwest Taiwan feared anyone who came close to them or their children, due to the slashing that would occur to people. This was known as The Phantom Slasher of Taiwan. It was a span of mass hysteria that went on for a short time until the truth came out. Parents would go to the police and say that their child had mysterious cuts on various areas of their bodies. It was not a very big cut, but it was noticeable enough to make the parents go to the police.
Once one person went, many other people would end up going to the police as well. Soon enough, people would go and create lies of the happenings. In the end, all 21 cases were proven false and each story was comprised of lies, some more then others. In The Crucible, there were many dishonest statements being told to the officials of the court about the townspeople being associated with the devil. Along with the Phantom Slasher story, The Crucible was a mass hysteria event created by a single person that had quickly escalated all throughout the town.
One person had been acting ewitched and it had lead to more people acting like they were apart of the witchcraft. It prompted people to accuse who they wanted to, in a way of vengeance to get back at them for any reason. The Phantom Slasher of Taiwan in 1956 and the Salem Witch Trials, as seen in The Crucible, share similarities in a basis of superstitions, relating to communism, and differences in the spread of information. Both occurrences had one main superstition that had lead to the creation of the mass hysteria. The Phantom Slasher’s superstition was that one could receive good fortune if they had caused a child to bleed.
In the article “The Phantom Slasher of Taipai: Mass Hysteria in a Non-Western Society,” it says “prompted by the old local superstition that the drawing of blood from a given number of small children brings good luck”(Norman 320). That was a belief that the police had heard which might be the reason one would go around slashing young children. It is quite an extravagant belief, but it could have been a worthy enough solution to create a case and cause people of the town to be suspicious. The superstition of the existence of witches in The Crucible was established from the bible.
The Holy Bible says that witches or spiritist do exist and that they should be killed if ever encountered (The Holy Bible, Lev. 20:27). Since the town of Salem is apart of the Puritan society they follow the bible, and the bible says that witches live among us. Therefore, the people of the town and the court do have a reason to believe that witches could have been summoned in to Salem and had created the time of mass hysteria. Communism has had multiple occurrences that created mass hysteria in the early 1920’s and late 1940’s, called the First and Second Red Scare.
It only makes sense that these two semi- relevant pieces relate to communism due to their time periods. The Phantom Slasher story was only a few years after the Second Red Scare and The Crucible is an allegory for the First Red Scare. In Norman Jacobs writing about the Phantom Slasher, he said … this government has been at war with the mainland People’s Republic of China since 1949″(Norman 327). This means that Taiwan had been at war with the Communist since 1949 and was still very cautious of anyone, fearing that it could be the communist who wanted to take over and ruin their ociety.
Anything that had transpired at the time would have had people accusing the communist, whether it really was them or not. The Crucible is an allegory for the First Red Scare because Arthur Miller, the Author, had lived through that time period. Arthur had connected the writings of the The Crucible to the First Red Scare as a way to describe the appalling human history that had once taken place(Miller 8). During the First Red Scare the americans had feared anyone that could have possibly been a communist, due to the ending of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
In The Crucible, the townspeople feared one girl, Abigail Williams, because everyone had thought of her as a saint, and they did not want her to accuse them of witchcraft. Anyone that was accused of witchcraft and denied it, would have been hanged, and if they had admitted to it, then they would have been put in jail to die. The Crucible says “… I have no choice but to arrest you for contempt of this court.. “(Miller 100). This was Danforth telling Giles Corey that he had to be arrested because he was disobedient to the court.
Giles was told information about Thomas Putnam telling people o lie and had accused George Jacobs of witchcraft. The reason Giles was arrested was because he did not telling the court who told him about Putnam. This is a direct relation to the Red Scare, when people would rather die then tell of people who might be a communist. Other than the obvious time gap, one may see the comparison in how the mass hysteria event was spread or talked about compared to the other. The different century called for different technologies. In 1692, in The Crucible, they did not have the advancements that the Phantom Slasher did of newspapers.
The townspeople did have newspapers, but the newspapers were not a fast enough source to be used to catch up with what was going on in town at the time. The only way people would find out information would be if they attended the court hearings or if they had talked to people who knew what was going on. In the book The Crucible, Arthur Miller wrote “… your wife’s name is – mentioned in the court”(Miller 69). This is used as an example of one thing that would have not been known to Goody Proctor or John Proctor if they did not hear about that from Reverend Hale.
The townspeople would not even know if a itch hunt was going on in Salem until it was too late and they were accused of witchcraft. In 1956, the newspaper was one of the only ways to find out what was happening around town. In the Phantom Slasher event, all the information seized, had came from those newspapers. All the dates, and stories of people creating false accusations all came from three newspapers. Since it was not a very big case it was not broadcasted around on television or on the radio. If it was, then it probably would have created an even bigger mass hysteria event.
The Phantom Slasher of 1956 and the Salem Witch trials were oth examples of mass hysteria events prompted by fear. Two different cases, in two different centuries, came together to create a widespread uproar to terrify anyone in town or their neighboring areas. They were not nationwide cases, but they were enough to cause sufficient damage to people. Some people were killed, while others were sent to jail, and some just had created lies to add onto the hysteria. Communism and old superstitions were both represented through newspapers to show the stories of mass hysteria in the contents of The Crucible and The Phantom Slasher of 1956