The Crucible By Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller: History • Grew up during the 1930 ‘s and the Great Depression. • Had a profound impact on shaping Arthur into becoming a mega-celebrity • First play was a complete flop, pulled from Broadway after three shows. • Went on to become a American power house in theatre:Streetcar Named DesireDeath of a SalesmanThe Crucible
McCarthy vs. Salem Witch Hunt • McCarthyism • Senator McCarthy was facing re-election after a very uneventful term (did little to earn another appointment) • Produced a list of 207 know communists (government officials, celebrities). • Red Scare during the cold war of the 1950’s was enough to attract a strong supporting crowd for McCarty. • Many citizens were accused, tried, fined, or jailed because of the false accusations of one man. • Truth of the list fictitious nature ended McCarthy’s career as a politician. • Showed that truth at any coast was too expensive a price to pay.
Salem Witch Hunt • Colonial era Massachusetts 1682 • Puritan community, fleeing English religious reforms of Protestant Church • Case of mass hysteria • Ended the theocracy of New England • Much of the evidence was spectral • 19 hung, 5 die in prison during the hunt. Throughout Europe 40,000-100,000 executed for witch craft (1400-1600’s) • Used what was considered empirical evidence to determine guilt 9touch, blemishes) • Real cause either biological (mould infection in rye bread, or social (greed, attention seeking, spite)
Loss of Civil Liberties • Citizens could be accused, and face terrible repercussions. • Guilt was assumed, innocence had to earned. • No evidence was ever introduced other than word of mouth, or the word of the accused in their own defence. • Both American historical events, both travesties of justice. • Suspension of Civil liberties can never be justified – ever • Post 9-11 era is ripe with continued civil liberty abuse as homeland security continues to justify these emerging abuses as necessary practices. • Security at all costs?
The Crucible: Vocabulary • excommunicate • faction • gibbet • grapple • intimation • lechery • licentious • magistrate • obscene • pallor • adamant • affidavit • autocracy • bowlegged • clod • contention • contiguous • Crucible • defamation • deposition parish pilgrimage plaintiff poppet predilection pretense prodigious propriety providence reproach struck dumb subservient titillated trepidation vengeance
Characters of The Crucible • John Proctor - A local farmer who lives just outside town; Elizabeth Proctor’s husband. A stern, harsh-tongued man, John hates hypocrisy. Nevertheless, he has a hidden sin—his affair with Abigail Williams— • Abigail Williams - Reverend Parris’s niece. Abigail was once the servant for the Proctor household, but Elizabeth Proctor fired her after she discovered that Abigail was having an affair with her husband, John Proctor. Abigail is smart, wily, a good liar, and vindictive when crossed. • Reverend John Hale - A young minister reputed to be an expert on witchcraft. Reverend Hale is called in to Salem to examine Parris’s daughter Betty.. • Elizabeth Proctor - John Proctor’s wife. Elizabeth fired Abigail when she discovered that her husband was having an affair with Abigail. Elizabeth is supremely virtuous, but often cold. • Reverend Parris - The minister of Salem’s church. Reverend Parris is a paranoid, power-hungry, yet oddly self-pitying figure. Many of the townsfolk, especially John Proctor, dislike him, and Parris is very concerned with building his position in the community. • Rebecca Nurse - Francis Nurse’s wife. Rebecca is a wise, sensible, and upright woman, held in tremendous regard by most of the Salem community. • Francis Nurse - A wealthy, influential man in Salem. Nurse is well respected by most people in Salem, but is an enemy of Thomas Putnam and his wife. • Judge Danforth - The deputy governor of Massachusetts and the presiding judge at the witch trials. Honest and scrupulous, at least in his own mind, Danforth is convinced that he is doing right in rooting out witchcraft.
Characters - continued • Ann Putnam - Thomas Putnam’s wife. Ann Putnam has given birth to eight children, but only Ruth Putnam survived. The other seven died before they were a day old, and Ann is convinced that they were murdered by supernatural means. • Ruth Putnam - The Putnams’ lone surviving child out of eight. Like Betty Parris, Ruth falls into a strange stupor after Reverend Parris catches her and the other girls dancing in the woods at night. • Tituba - Reverend Parris’s black slave from Barbados. Tituba agrees to perform voodoo at Abigail’s request. • Mary Warren - The servant in the Proctor household and a member of Abigail’s group of girls. She is a timid girl, easily influenced by those around her, who tried unsuccessfully to expose the hoax and ultimately recanted her confession. • Betty Parris - Reverend Parris’s ten-year-old daughter. Betty falls into a strange stupor after Parris catches her and the other girls dancing in the forest with Tituba. Her illness and that of Ruth Putnam fuel the first rumors of witchcraft. • Giles Corey - An elderly but feisty farmer in Salem, famous for his tendency to file lawsuits. • Thomas Putnam - A wealthy, influential citizen of Salem, Putnam holds a grudge against Francis Nurse for preventing Putnam’s brother-in-law from being elected to the office of minister
Crucible Act I: Study Questions • 1. Why is Reverend Parris praying and weeping as the play begins?2. Why did Mrs. Putnam send her daughter Ruth to Tituba?3. What is Proctor's response when Abigail speaks of her love to him?4. Does Rebecca think that Betty is touched by the devil? why?5. Why is Mrs. Putnam so quick to believe that Goody Osburn is a witch?6. Towards the end of act 1, both Abigail and Tituba confess to witchcraft because....7. How do the characters in the crucible feel about witches?8. Describe setting and mood in Act 1.
Crucible Act II: Study Questions • 1. Why is Giles Cory expelled from court? Why won’t Danforth hear his evidence? Why is Cory arrested?2. Why is Mary Warren in court? What does she tell Danforth? Why is Danforth suspicious of her and of Proctor? Why does Proctor remind her of the angel Raphael?3. How does Parris nullify Proctor’s testament? How is Giles’s deposition turned against him?4. What is the professed purpose of the court? Why doesn’t the court need witnesses? What does this suggest about the proceedings?5. Why does Proctor confess lechery? Why does he think Danforth and Hawthorne will believe his confession? Why don’t they believe him?6. How is Elizabeth’s testimony used against Proctor? Why is this an unfair test of Elizabeth’s word against John’s?7. How does Abigail turn the court against Mary Warren?8. Why does Hale denounce the proceedings? What should have been the effect of his denunciation? Why is it not?
Crucible Act III Study Questions • 1. Why is Giles Cory expelled from court? Why won’t Danforth hear his evidence? Why is Cory arrested? • 2. Why is Mary Warren in court? What does she tell Danforth? Why is Danforth suspicious of her and of Proctor? Why does Proctor remind her of the angel Raphael? • 3. How does Parris nullify Proctor’s testament? How is Giles’s deposition turned against him? • 4. What is the professed purpose of the court? Why doesn’t the court need witnesses? What does this suggest about the proceedings? • 5. Why does Proctor confess lechery? Why does he think Danforth and Hathorne will believe his confession? Why don’t they believe him? • 6. How is Elizabeth’s testimony used against Proctor? Why is this an unfair test of Elizabeth’s word against John’s? • 7. How does Abigail turn the court against Mary Warren? • 8. Why does Hale denounce the proceedings? What should have been the effect of his denunciation? Why is it not?
Crucible Act IV Study Questions • 1. What is the effect of Sarah Good’s and Tituba’s talk about flying south? Why does Miller include it? • 2. How has Parris changed? Why doesn’t the news that Abigail and Mercy have left town affect the decision of the court? How is Danforth a victim of his own logic? • 3. Why has Hale returned? How has he changed? Why has he changed? • 4. Why does Danforth allow Elizabeth to speak to John Proctor? How has she changed toward her husband? Why doesn’t she take Hale’s advice? • 5. How and why does Giles die? Why wasn’t he hanged? • 6. Why does Proctor confess? Why will he not name names? Why will he not let Danforth have his signed paper? • 7. Why does John Proctor choose to hang? What does he thereby accomplish?
Major Themes • Authority and Dissent • Martyrdom • Community vsIndividual • Naming Names • Sin and Guilt • Self interest • Reputation