The Crucible Updated: Summer 2013
The Puritans • The play is set in the time and place of the Puritans – Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.
The Puritans • Pre-Revolutionary War. (Pre-United States) • No United States congress, no president, no democracy. • The society in which The Puritans lived was a theocracy. • Theocracy - A system of government in which religious figures, not a separate government, makes the laws and punishes crimes.
The Puritans • You ate • You slept • You worked • You prayed. • Anything else was the devil’s work.
The Puritans Sins: • Pre-martial sex • Excessive alcohol • Gambling
The Puritans Sins: • Dancing • Toasting • Wearing bright colors • Christmas • Works of fiction
THE PURITANS God The Devil The Puritans lived in a world of pure black and white. You were either a good Christian or in league with the devil – there was no middle ground.
THE PURITANS They believed they lived on the very brink of the war with the devil – the American forest was full of heathen Native Americans who worked for Satan. They were far away from the safety of Christian Europe.
The Salem witch trials • Fear of witch craft had come from Europe. • King James had written a book on the subject – Demonologies. This was part of the reason Shakespeare wrote the play Macbeth. • Witch hunting was seen as an intellectual pursuit.
THE Salem witch trials • Over 100 “witches” had been tried and hanged in Europe during the 1600s. • The mentally challenged, homosexuals, and other people who did not fit into the norms of society. • Witches were a very real part of their lives.
THE Salem witch trials • In 1692, after a group of young Salem girls had been discovered dancing in the woods, Salem began to grow hysterical about the possibility of secret witches in their mist. • Because of their very real belief in the dangers of the devil, The Puritans were very afraid of witches invading their town.
THE Salem witch trials • When the town began to grow afraid of witches among, some of the more clever members of the society began to take advantage of the fear. • The Royal Charter had been revoked – without any set rules on who owned what land, the people of Salem began accusing their neighbors of being witches in hopes they could steal their property.
THE Salem witch trials • From early spring to September 1692, 150 “witches” were taken in custody. • 19 people and two dogs refused to confess to witchcraft and were killed by hanging. • 4 died in jail. • 1 man was pressed to death by stones. • Massachusetts did not formally apologize for murdering for 24 people FOR NO REASON until 1992.
THE CRUCIBLE • Arthur Miller wrote the play in the 1950’s. • The Crucible is his fictionalized account of what happened in Salem.
Major characters • John Proctor – a sensible farmer in Salem who holds a dark secret. John Proctor’s firing of his former maid Abigail Williams is what sets the events of the play in motion. John Proctor hates the town preacher Reverend Paris – he thinks Paris is more interested in money than God.
Major characters • Abigail Williams – A seventeen year old girl. Her parents were killed by Native Americans while she watched – she has been taken in by her uncle, Reverend Paris. She becomes the ring leader of the girls who are accused of witchcraft.
Major characters • Reverend Paris - the town preacher in Salem. He is convinced there is a group of townspeople who have a conspiracy to get him fired and he believes John Proctor is the leader.
Major characters • Judge Danforth – the head judge of the witch trials. He embodies the black and white mentality of the puritans: you’re either “us” or you’re “them.” He is stern and serious with little patience.