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Athena Banh
2/6/2014
Kelley
AP. Lang. Pd. 1
The Crucible Argumentative Essay
Though many may believe in the notion that the decisions they make and the actions they
carry out are solely decided and acted upon through individuality, their surroundings and
preconceived notions factor heavily into such things; such belief is also referred to by historian
Barbara Tuchman as wooden-headedness. Wooden-headedness plays a significant role in
many human affairs because of the prevalence of stereotypes, the influence of society into
personal beliefs, and the general weakness of individual morals.
Even though the U.S. is arguably the most diverse nation, in terms of ethnicity, race,
culture, etc., generalizations have swept through the nation, causing stereotypes to be formed.
One common stereotype prevalent in America today is the misconception of all Muslims being
associated with terrorism, widely known as Islamaphobia. Such beliefs of Americans held
against the Islamic culture is a prime example of the wooden-headedness of the American
culture. Because of few terrorist attacks caused by only extremists of the Muslim faith, the
general American public has conceived all Muslims to be a threat to the nation which has greatly
affected both the government and the lives of the American Muslims to this day. Though the
attack of 9/11 occurred more than a decade ago, the stereotypes targeting Muslim-Americans are
still widely believed in today, causing the enactment of stricter laws and regulations, especially
in airports, directed towards Muslims. Another stereotype, or rather group of stereotypes,
prevalent in American society today is pinpointed to target the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual

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Transgender) community. Such stereotypes are commonly held by those who may not even
know of a person that is part of the LGBT community, and rather used their personal
preconceived notions and deceptions to form such generalizations. The wooden-headedness of
Americas public towards the LGBT community has led to the creation of laws that impede, or
even prevent, gays to get married and adopt children. The prevalence of wooden-headedness in
human affairs represents how easily generalizations and stereotypes are made without adequate
information and rather with deceptions conceived by an individual himself.
Wooden-headedness is also exemplified in human affairs through the likeliness of
individuals to conform to society and what society wants of them. For example, in Arthur
Millers The Crucible, false accusations of people being bewitched are called out left and right
by the people of Salem, many of which, if not all, were false, but were believed of being true by
the governmental authorities of the town, and by making such accusations, one could benefit by
potentially avoiding prosecution or death. The people who were making false accusations of
others being bewitched were doing so to give their society what it wanted to hear instead of
expressing the truth, thus resembling the influence of wooden-headedness on actions and
decisions made by the individual. Human nature today continues to be driven by preconceived
notions, resulting in the conviction of innocent people. Also, the conformation to society by an
individual is shown through Emersons transcendental essay, Nature. Through his essay,
Emerson advocates his reader to take a step away from the chaos of society and fully submerge
themselves into the peace of nature in order to truly seek their individual pathway of life
unaltered by society. He also asserts that another reason to avoid societys chaos is to be able to
form individual beliefs without the influence of society. The negative role that society plays in
the decisions of individuals today reflects on the dissolving of individual diversity and the

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growing conformation and support for societys more popular beliefs. The preconceived notions
that one may gain from society can easily alter personal beliefs, resembling the prevalence of
wooden-headedness in human decisions.
Wooden-headedness is also shown through the weakness of some individuals morals. In
Millers The Crucible, the main character, Abigail, is able to convince a whole group of girls to
drop their personal morals in order to save themselves from being prosecuted by their
accusations. The weakness of the girls morals eventually leads to unfortunate results, different
from what any of them were expecting, resembling that even though they easily gave up their
morality because of what Abigail had ordered of them to do and deflected the truth, the outcome
of which they had hoped for was still unachieved. Today, the effect of weak individual morality
is apparent in the willingness of people to succumb to what society desires of them, usually
consequently resulting in unintentional and undesired outcomes. A historical event in which
weak individual morality was present is the Trail of Tears which entails a period of American
history in which President Jackson was able to convince the American public that the Native
Americans were preventing them from prospering, leading to a majority of the publics support
of Jacksons ridding of the Native Americans from areas that he wished to settle. The Trail of
Tears illustrated the presence of wooden-headedness in America because the people were easily
convinced that the rights that they were given to discriminate against Native Americans was
moral, when prior to many of their own arrivals in America were persecuted against in their
home countries. The weak morality of the American public during the Jacksonian era still affects
the Native Americas in the US today in that many of the same stereotypes used to convince the
settlers that the actions the Trail of Tears were moral are still widely believed in to this day,
resulting in the prejudices that target Native Americans through the media. Weak individual

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morality resembles the prevalence of wooden-headedness in human affairs through how easily
individuals modify their own moral code to abide by societys beliefs instead.
Wooden-headedness is prevalent in human affairs because of the weakness of an
individual in the face of society. Unintentionally, the influence of wooden-headedness on human
affairs through stereotypes, societys influence, and weak morality typically results in lasting
unfathomable consequences.

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Works Cited
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. James Munroe and Company, 1836. Print.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003. Print.