Scapegoating In Margaret Atwood's 'Half-Hanged Mary'

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In her interview with Bill Moyers, Margaret Atwood says, “When societies come under stress these kinds of things happen. People start looking around for essentially human sacrifices. They start looking around for someone they can blame.” Society will always find a scapegoat to use when something reprehensible or frightening happens. “Half-Hanged Mary” by Margaret Atwood set in the late 1600s is one historical example of scapegoating. The Crucible by Arthur Miller set in Massachusetts in 1692 is a significant literary representation. The 1947 Herb Block cartoon “It’s okay -- we’re hunting Communists” from the Washington Post, is also a source showing scapegoating. In all three artistic works, scapegoating is either directly referenced, or implied, showing how mass hysteria can shape the views of society.…show more content…
Mary was hanged in a Puritan town in Massachusetts for ten hours before being cut down to find out she was alive. In the writing, Mary says, “Help me down? You don’t dare. I might rub off on you, like soot or gossip,” showing that when someone is scapegoated, everyone turns their back on them. If someone in the community were to “side” with an accused person, they could also be accused of the crime at hand. “In a gathering like this one the safe place is the background, pretending you can’t dance, the safe stance pointing a finger,” exhibits the thought process of the group or groups who want to keep themselves out of the line of fire. Scapegoating not only affects the accused, it encompasses and affects the entire

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