The Crucible By Arthur Miller
Historical Context In 1953, legendary writer Arthur Miller depicted a story based on actual facts; facts which remain horrifying even to this day, despite being based on events which took place over 300 years ago.
The Plot The story is a terrifying depiction of how the accusations of a group of children stirred up such fear in the community that it led to persecution and hangings. The message applies to all “witch-hunts”; taking place every day.
setting It is the spring of 1692. The small town of Salem, MA had been established a mere forty years earlier, and had yet to make it its mark on the rest of the world. However, while not all were immediately aware, 1692 would be a year of revolution’ in America. No longer was everyone willing to adhere to the strict lifestyle that had been set down by their forefathers.
Conflict • While the town of Salem may have appeared to be a serene and enjoyable place to live, it was about to experience an event that would change their lives forever. Little did they know, though, that their story would still have a tremendous effect on us today.
The Parris’s • Reverend Samuel Parris -An older minister who is hated by many members of the community. • Betty Parris- The daughter of reverend Parris who is pretending to be unconscious in Act 1.
Abigail and tituba • Tituba- A black female slave who is the first person to be accused of witchcraft. • Abigail Williams - The niece of reverend Parris who has an affair with Proctor and accuses many people of witchcraft.
The Proctor’s • John Proctor - A successful farmer and a married man who cheats on his wife with the babysitter. • Elizabeth Proctor- John’s wife, a good but ill mother, who is very angry because of her husband’s affair.
The Putnam’s • Mrs. Ann Putnam - An unhappy woman who’s daughter Ruth is also pretending to be unconscious in Act 1. • Thomas Putnam - A member of Reverend Parris’s church who is very wealthy.
The Other Girls • Susanna Walcott-A friend of Abigail’s who tries to help Betty and Ruth. • Mercy Lewis - A friend of Abigail’s who danced naked in the woods. • Mary Warren- A friend of Abigail’s who claims she didn’t do anything wrong.
A few Tragic heroes • Rebecca Nurse- An older woman who knows the little girls are faking their illnesses. • Giles Corey - An old farmer who is suspicious of his wife because she likes to read. • Reverend John Hale- A minister from the nearby town of Beverly who is called by Reverend Parris to investigate his suspicions of witchcraft in Salem.
Minor Characters • Francis Nurse - A wealthy farmer who is arrested for trying to stop the trials. • Ezekiel Cheever - An official of the court who works for governor Danforth. • Marshal Herrick - An official of the court who works for governor Danforth. • Judge Hawthorne - A judge who is prejudice against the accused. • Martha Corey - Giles’ Corey’s wife • Danforth - The governor of Massachusetts; he supports the trials. • Sarah Good - A homeless woman falsely accused by Abigail and her friends of witchcraft
Act 1 Analysis The Confessions • Why do you believe Tituba and Abigail admit to practicing witchcraft? • Tituba and Abigail admit to practice witchcraft because… While they were in the woods,… This led to … So they finally, “…” ( ).
Act 2 analysis • Proctor and His Two Lovers Analyze the relationship Proctor has with his wife, Elizabeth, as revealed through the opening of Act II (only up to Mary Warren’s entrance). Use the dialogue to help support your assertions about the relationship. Use thorough, thoughtfully composed ideas. Compare Proctor’s relationship with Abigail—the chemistry between them—with his relationship with his wife.
Act 3 Analysis • Mary, Mary, quite Contrary Throughout ACT III, Mary Warren is affected by multiple characters. Consider how each of the following characters interacts with and influences the actions and thoughts of the fickle Mary Warren. Furthermore, explain the specific tactic each character uses to persuade Mary Warren to do what they want her to do. Include two specific pieces of textual evidence (with page numbers) to support your claims about each character’s influential factor. Characters to consider: • John Proctor • Reverend Hale • Abigail
Act 4 Analysis Poor John • Describe both an internal conflict and an external conflict that John Proctor faced. Then, explain how these conflicts were resolved.
Essay prompt • A crucible is defined as “a severe test.” Many characters in the play are tested in terms of their conscience (guilt/remorse), their motivation, their understanding of right and wrong, and their understanding of their consequences. Some characters crumble under their test; some excel beyond that which surrounds them.
Essay Prompt • In a multi-paragraph essay, evaluate the test that one character faces during the events of the story. Address this character’s motivation to action throughout the play as seen in their speech and behavior. Analyze what prompts this character to determine the choices she/he makes. Evaluate how this character fairs at the end of his or her test in the play. Furthermore, analyze how the notion of a “crucible” transcends the play. Look at society in terms of community or on a national level to connect concepts of the “witch hunt” and “a crucible” with society today (Consider: War or Terror, Gays in the Military, California Fires, etc.).
Student Sample Introduction • A great president once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power” (Abraham Lincoln). Often people who are given a large amount of power can become prideful and overlook the extent of their responsibilities. They fail to realize the impact of the choices they make, until it is too late. In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, John Hale is given the power to confirm the presence of witchcraft in Salem. However, Hale soon realizes his mistakes and his test is to rid himself of his guilt.
Student sample body paragraph • When John Hale goes to Salem, he is convinced that there is witchcraft, and many people expect him to find it. The authorities boast, “This is a beloved errand for him; on being called here to ascertain witchcraft he felt the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for” (Miller 190). Hale feels that his job is important and he has pride in his work. Even though witchcraft seems an unlikely cause of the girl’s afflictions, “Better minds than Hale’s were and still are convinced that there is a society of spirits beyond our ken” (Miller 31). Many people truly believed in sprits and witches in Salem. During all the chaos going on when a group of girls accuse others of witchcraft, people turn to Hale to bring order in the village, bringing him even more power over others. Nevertheless, many people in Salem put their trust in John Hale because of his credibility and intelligence.
Student sample real life connection paragraph • Power can cause a man to become prideful and look past the impact that their choices have on others. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, former President George Bush had a huge responsibility to protect our country. All of America looked towards him for guidance and put their trust in him. Many people supported his decision to go into Iraq and discover “the weapons of mass destruction” (CNN). However, by the end of his term as president, he had extremely low approval ratings and many Americans disapproved of the war in Iraq. Like Hale, his attempts to protect the innocent led to unnecessary loss of life. Unfortunately, many Americans still suffer as a result of his actions.