The Crucible Arthur Miller. Act One Questions and Answers. 1. What is the setting (time and place) of the play? Describe the town in which this play takes place. The play is set in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692.
1. What is the setting (time and place) of the play? Describe the town in which this play takes place. The play is set in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692. The town was small and isolated, barely a village. There were few houses; nearby was the forest and the bay. To the Europeans, it was seen as a ‘barbaric frontier’ filled with fanatics; however, these people were good businesspeople.
2. Make a list of at least five words (adjectives) that describe each of the main characters. Parris: Well-educated; Greedy; Egocentric Abigail: Deceitful; Insensitive; Lustful Proctor: Susceptible; Capable; Autonomous T. Putnam: Covetous; Vindictive; Confrontational A. Putnam: Unfortunate; Wistful; Agitative Corey: Elderly; Scatterbrained yet Shrewd; Humorous R. Nurse: Respected; Wise; Maternal Hale: Well-Read; Authoritative; Imposing
3. How did the village’s residents regard the forest and its Indian inhabitants? From what paradox (contradiction) did the Salem tragedy develop? The townspeople feared the forest because of the Indians and because they believe the forest is the devil’s playground (therefore, the Indians who come from the forests must be Satan’s emissaries). The theocracy developed so the colony could survive; disunity was a threat. The witch-hunt was a result of a kind of panic that developed when a need for individual freedom began to be felt (independence = being drawn to the devil and therefore wrong.)
4. What behaviors of Betty Parris and Ruth Putnam made some feel they were possessed by witches? Betty was in a coma-like state. Ruth was walking around in a dumb state; she wasn’t talking, eating, etc. Therefore, some of the townspeople felt that the girls must be possessed.
5. What did Reverend Parris see in the woods? What has he done in response to what he saw? What all actually happened in the woods? Reverend Parris saw the girls dancing and he saw someone running naked. In response to this, he’s asked Reverend Hale to come to Salem to verify that no witchcraft is being performed in his community. In the forest, the girls danced, Mercy was naked, Abigail drank a potion to kill Goody Proctor, and Tituba conjured spirits for Ruth and Ann Putnam (regarding the dead Putnam babies).
6. Why was Abigail fired from the Proctor household? Abigail claims she was fired because she wouldn’t let Goody Proctor treat her like a slave. She was really fired because Goody Proctor found out Abigail was having an affair with Mr. Proctor.
7. How do the Putnams feel about the possibility of witchcraft in Salem? Why is Thomas Putnam a bitter man? The Putnam’s believe because of the number of children they’ve lost and because of Betty and Ruth’s behavior that witchcraft is definitely alive and well in Salem. Thomas Putnam is a bitter man because: His wife’s brother-in-law was not made minister of Salem (remember, this is a theocracy and the minister wielded a lot of power.) His father did not leave Thomas as much in his will as Thomas felt was his birthright.
8. What is Mary Warren’s greatest fear? Mary Warren feared being executed as a witch.
9. Who is in control of the girls? No, the devil is not in control of the girls. Remember, they are simply frightened because they were caught doing things they should not have been doing so what’s happening with Betty and Ruth is a result of fear, not of the devil’s hold on them. Abigail is in control of the girls. She is their leader as you can tell when she speaks with / threatens Mary Warren and Mercy Lewis.
10. How does Abigail react to John Proctor? What does he tell her? Abigail is very attracted to John Proctor and acts provocatively towards him when they are alone. She flirts and basically begs him to again ‘put knowledge in her heart.’ John tells her they can never be together again, that they should never have been together, because he is a married man and he cannot cheat on his wife again. He tells Abigail that she must forget him and stop being so mischievous.
11. What does Abigail say about the rumors of witchcraft? Basically, Abigail says “Oh posh” about the rumors of witchcraft. She knows that it’s all a load of … well, you know. She’s the one who instigated all of this and she knows that she’s not worshipping the devil, that she just wanted to have a little fun with the girls; here, she uses the same word Rebecca Nurse uses later, that Betty is simply acting ‘silly’.
12. Do you think Abigail really loves John Proctor? This is truly an opinion question at this point… Here are some things to think about when answering this question: Yes, Abigail does really love sex because to her, a female teenager, sex equals love. No, Abigail does not really love John because if she did, she wouldn’t try to tempt him do something that he tells her he doesn’t want to do because he knows it’s wrong (he is married, after all) and that it goes against his beliefs and his conscience.
13. What does Rebecca Nurse believe is afflicting the girls? What caution does she offer? Rebecca Nurse believes that the girls are simply being ‘silly’, or acting out. She believes that they are simply being children and that eventually, they’ll snap out of it. She cautions them against looking for witchcraft where none exists. She knows that if they become convinced that witchcraft exists, that panic will ensue, and that no one will be safe from the chaos that panic will cause.
14. Why do some people resent Francis and Rebecca Nurse? Some people resent Francis and Rebecca Nurse because: - They have 11 children and 26 grandchildren; none of their children / grandchildren have died. - Francis was originally not a landowner; however, through hard work, he accumulated land, wealth, and power. - They were against Thomas Putnam’s candidate for reverend and prevented the candidate from getting the position. - The Nurses had a ‘land war’ against some of their neighbors, one of whom was a Putnam.
15. Which of the characters are openly critical of Reverend Parris? John Proctor is openly critical of Reverend Parris because of Parris’ greed and because of his continual preaching on nothing but mortgages and hellfire / damnation. Rebecca supports the opinion that Parris doesn’t preach on anything but the negative aspects of religion. Giles Corey agrees that Parris is too greedy.
16. What does Parris accuse Proctor of? What does Thomas Putnam accuse Proctor of? Parris accuses Proctor of organizing a group whose sole purpose is to undermine Parris’ authority and position. Thomas Putnam accuses Proctor of stealing wood off of his (Putnam’s) land.
17. What confession does Mrs. Putnam make to both Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale? Ann Putnam confesses to sending Ruth, her daughter, out into the woods with Tituba, Parris’ slave, to conjure up the spirits of her seven dead babies so they will tell her who’s been murdering them.
18. What special purpose does Giles Corey serve in the play? Giles Corey serves as comic relief in the play.
19. Why does Tituba confess? How does Reverend Hale make her feel important? Who does Tituba say are also witches? Tituba confesses to avoid being executed. Reverend Hale makes her feel important by begin gentle in his questioning of her and by convincing her that she is ‘God’s instrument’ given to them to find out the Devil’s plan for Salem so they can prevent him from gaining a stronghold on the townspeople. Tituba says Sarah Good and Sarah Osburne are witches.
20. How do Abigail and Betty take advantage of what is happening to make sure they will not be blamed for dancing in the forest? Abigail and Betty also name names, to throw suspicion off of themselves. By the time Act One is over, Abigail and Betty have added 9 names to those accused of being witches.
21. Based on what you have learned about Abigail in Act One, whom do you think she might accuse as the play goes on? Cite specific evidence to support your answer. Abigail will most likely name Goody Proctor as a witch. She has already tried to put a curse on her that would kill her; therefore, accusing her of witchery is not a stretch and would help in Abigail’s quest of ridding the town, and John Proctor, of Elizabeth.
22. The mini-essays are not generally included in a stage production of The Crucible. Why do you think Miller included them in his drama? Do you think the play production of The Crucible would be effective without the inclusions of these mini-essays? Why or why not? Miller included the mini-essays in the drama to give background information for us to more fully understand his characters and his thoughts about mass hysteria in general. The play performed without the mini-essays would still be effective because the dialogue and the actions are powerful in and of themselves. However, the audience would not understand the purpose of the play nor the background of some of the players which may leave them feeling a little bewildered or disconnected from the play.
Question 23 is: Miller often foreshadows his characterizations with a descriptive phrase in the stage directions just before a character’s entrance on the stage. What does he suggest about each of the following characters in doing so: Abigail, Ann Putnam, and Mercy Lewis? How do the dialogue and actions of each character in this act bear out Miller’s suggestions?
Question 23’s answer is: Abigail is beautiful and she is aware of her beauty which gives her the confidence to flirt with John Proctor. She is good at dissembling, at hiding the truth to protect herself. Ann Putnam is haunted by the loss of her seven babies; this grief makes her do things that she would not normally do, like send her daughter to conjure spirits. Mercy Lewis is definitely mischievous; after all, she is the one who was running naked through the woods. She is also merciless in her taunts of Mary Warren when Mary Warren is clearly at her wit’s end.
24. One of Miller’s major subjects in the play is the nature of authority. Comment on how Parris, Thomas Putnam, Hale, and Rebecca Nurse are linked with the idea of authority in Act One. At this stage, what seems to be the playwright’s opinion about each of these character’s claims to possessing authority? Parris is the town minister; with this being a theocracy, he is definitely a power player. Miller does not seem to think that his position should be equated with power. Putnam owns a lot of land, which again, during this time period, gave him power. However, you can tell that Miller doesn’t put much stock in land ownership equating power.
Question 24 continued… Reverend Hale is a well-read man. Although there is some arrogance, there is also some thoughtfulness and gentleness shown by Hale. Miller probably regard highly people who were well-read since he himself was a playwright. That is most likely why although there is some haughtiness shown in Hale, he’s not depicted as a total bumbling idiot. Rebecca’s age and upward mobility give her authority, and according to how Miller treats her, some well-deserved respect.
25. How would you describe the atmosphere or mood at the end of this act? What might this atmosphere foreshadow about future events in the town of Salem? There is an air of hysteria present at this point as Abigail and Betty join Tituba in naming names. Also, Putnam calls for the marshal to arrest those named and Hale feverishly joins him in calling for the arrest of Satan’s followers. Things aren’t looking so good for Salem; this hysteria will most likely spiral out of control and innocent people will probably be hurt and worse.