The Crucible Students will understand the ending of the novel and build an interpretation of the message.
Act IV • Three main sections: • Community Breakdown • Confessions • Goodness
Ideas from Act IV • These events can be related to themes: • Community Breakdown: Power: struggle for the truth and control • Confessions: Pride: holding onto respect of self. • Goodness: Good vs Evil: Good finally wins
Downfall • Sarah and Tituba gone mad they believe the Devil is coming to take them to Barbados • Herrick is drunk perhaps because of the trial and executions
Downfall • Town has changed • Hale: There are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle below the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlots’ cry will end his life’ pg. 114 • Hale calls the girls ‘harlots’ showing his disrespect of them. He speaks of the fear and paranoia that is now within the town because of the false confessions.
Confession • The Truth or what ones admits as truth equals power • Also relating to pride as a confession means upholding reputation of Danforth and the court but blackening John Proctor and other innocents.
Confession • Everyone wants a confession for different reason. What are they? • Hale • Danforth • Herrick • Elizabeth Proctor
Power Struggle • Danforth is trying to maintain control of the situation • Danforth and Herrick discuss Hale’s return. Danforth forbids him from being there at all. • Herrick: Why, Mr Parris command me, sir. I cannot deny him. Pg. 109 • Showing that Parris has had a change of heart now too and that he is trying to do some goodness. • Herrick: I think, sometimes, the man has a mad look these days. Pg 109
Pride • Parris: Rebecca Nurse is no Bridget that lived three year with Bishop before she married him. John Proctor is not Isaac Ward that drank his family to ruin pg. 111 • Parris is trying to explain that the deaths of these people without confession will cause doubt amongst the people of the town. As they have been ‘good Christians’ it is harder to believe they worked with the devil with no confession. Appealing to Danforth’s pride?
Power • Parris: This way, unconfessed and claiming innocence, doubts are multiplied, many honest people will weep for them and out good purpose is lost in their tears. Pg. 112 • The court needs to maintain power now given that Andover has overthrown the court. They need to be able to convince the community that they are still doing the ‘good and right’ thing.
Pride • Danforth: Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. • Danforth is conscious of how he will appear and what people will think of him. We can infer from this that he is perhaps aware of the false claims but will not back down because of his pride. • Danforth: Proctor, you mistake me, I am not empowered to trade your life for a lie. Pg. 122
Goodness: Hale’s Justification • Hale: Life, woman, life is God’s most precious gist; now principle, however, glorious, may justify the taking of it. • Hale: God damns a liar less that he that throws his life away for pride. • Hale is trying to convince Elizabeth that there is pride – a sin – in trying to uphold the truth as no one will listen. • Elizabeth: I think that be the Devil’s argument • Elizabeth can see that lying would be a sin and that is an bad and evil thing to do.
Goodness • Elizabeth describes Rebecca Nurse and having ‘one foot in Heaven now; naught may hurt her more’ pg. 115 • This explains that even though not confessing/lying means death, Rebecca can be comforted by God that she is doing what is ‘right’ and true/honest. • Rebecca Nurse’s idea of ‘goodness’ and Hale’s differs. How?
John Proctor: Evil? • Proctor: I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud. I am not that man. My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothings spoiled by giving them this lie that we not rotten long before. Pg. 118 • He believes he is already going to hell ‘It is pretence for me, a vanity that will not blind God nor keep my children out of the wind.’ pg. 119
Proctor: holding onto goodness • He will not confess to seeing Rebecca Nurse with the devil. But because everyone else has implicated someone else his confession must do the same. • He will not blacken his name any further, he will not let his sins affect the lives of others. This is what happened with his affair with Abigail that created this evil. • Proctor: ‘Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang’ pg. 125
Goodness • Proctor: ‘You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from the dogs.’ pg. 125 • Proctor can see that by staying true to himself and fighting the evil of the court and lies he is doing a good act. By remaining silent with Rebecca Nurse – a good women – he keeps their names good and the act they do good as well.
Goodness • Elizabeth: ‘He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!’ pg. 126
Message • You should know by now that all author’s write and hope to convey a message or meaning to the reader/audience. • What do you think the message of the play is? • What is the lesson Miller is trying to teach us?
Message • While the story is based on real events, Miller has changed parts to suit his purpose. • He makes this comment at the beginning of the play about the accuracy of it and the characters: • ‘I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history’
Message • Miller wrote this play as a warning. • He was trying to warn viewers (the world) about the dangers of hysteria and falling victim to it. • Also to highlight the manipulation • He was also trying to point out the failures in a legal inquiry in the United States in regards to Communism. But more on that later.
Message • The ending of the play is bleak, while John Proctor found his goodness, evil has wreaked havoc on the town and destroyed everything it stood for and believed in. • In their effort to shape their world to their own liking they completely destroyed it. • ‘To all intents and purposes, the power of theocracy in Massachusetts was broken’