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The Crucible. Act 1 Test Review. Act 1. The Overture. What does the phrase “endless capacity for dissembling” tell us about Abigail?. She is extremely deceptive always question her reliability Search for a hidden motive in her words. Why does Abigail admit to dancing in the forest?.

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The Crucible

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the crucible

The Crucible

Act 1 Test


act 1

Act 1

The Overture

what does the phrase endless capacity for dissembling tell us about abigail
What does the phrase “endless capacity for dissembling” tell us about Abigail?
  • She is extremely deceptive
  • always question her reliability
  • Search for a hidden motive in her words
why does abigail admit to dancing in the forest
Why does Abigail admit to dancing in the forest?
  • She knows Parris saw them
  • It is a lesser offense than witchcraft
  • She hopes this will satisfy him and prevent further questioning and/or an accusation of witchcraft
function of forest at night
Function of forest at night
  • Practical function--makes sense that the girls would sneak into the forest at night so they wouldn’t be observed dancing.
  • Atmospheric function—Salem in 1692 would be like a frontier outpost. Puritan inhabitants believed forest was a wild, dark place—the abode of heathens and evil spirits.
  • Figurative function—represents all that makes their community vulnerable to physical and spiritual attack.
parris character revealed when questioning abigail
Parris’ character revealed when questioning Abigail
  • His ministry is at stake
  • His reputation could be exposed to suspicion
  • Doesn’t want to be blind-sided with info about her that others may have
  • because he uses the church to justify his demands for money.
  • because he wonders if those who oppose him serve the devil and because he thinks Proctor is the leader of a plot.
  • because he believes that church members must obey the pastor or chaos will ensue.
abigail s spotless reputation
Abigail’s spotless reputation
  • Claims there are no disparaging rumors about her character.
  • Was discharged from Goody Proctor’s service.
  • Goody Proctor rarely goes to church to avoid “sitting so close to something so soiled.”
  • No one else in the village will hire her.
abigail s response
Abigail’s response
  • Attacks Goody Proctor’s character but does not deny the existence of the remark. (so there is a rumor about her!)
  • All the other women in the village are the same as Goody Proctor (so people do have doubts about her!)
  • Tries to change subject and put Parris on defensive (Do you begrudge my bed, Uncle?)
  • Calls Goody Proctor “a gossiping liar.”
  • (Her answers, however, suggest she is the one lying)
rev parris change of heart
Rev. Parris’ change of heart
  • Initially, doesn’t believe there to be any witchcraft in Salem.
  • Putnam reminds him that he has taken Parris’ side in all contentious matters so far, but threatens to withdraw that support if Parris holds back in this matter.
  • Everyone is always questioning his actions—which he doesn’t like—so he says that he is beginning to wonder if that is the work of the devil.

FYIIn a written commentary on the play, Miller indicated that he considered Thomas Putnam one of the play’s principal villains. He notes that Putnam was vindictive, with many grievances against his neighbors. He had numerous complaints involving disputes over ownership of land. Miller notes that Putnam seems to have played a key role in the accusations of witchcraft. Some historians have concluded that the real Thomas Putnam used accusations of witchcraft as an excuse to gain land.

reasons the putnams believe the girls and tituba are involved in witchcraft
Reasons the Putnams believe the girls and Tituba are involved in witchcraft.
  • Their babies were murdered
  • Ruth was close to conjuring up their spirits.
  • Some power of darkness struck her dumb.
  • A murdering witch is hiding among the people.

FYISneezing can occur when dust or pollen irritates the lining in the nasal passages. Congestion from colds or allergies can also force a person to sneeze. Ruth Putnam may have had a physical illness; however, superstition also held that sneezing might indicate that a possessed person was expelling demons through the nose. This may be the origin of the practice of saying “God bless you” when a person sneezes. It also probably is the reason Mercy suggests that sneezing may restore Ruth’s senses.

will the real abigail please stand up
Will the real Abigail please stand up!!
  • With the adults gone, Abigail becomes the dominant personality, telling the other girls what to say, threatening them and insinuating her capacity for violence if they betray her.
to fake or not to fake or is something really wrong with betty
To fake or not to fake or is something really wrong with Betty?
  • Responds when adults are out of room
  • Knows that Abigail did not reveal everything about that night in the forest (drinking a charm to kill Goody Proctor)
enter john proctor

Enter John Proctor

Enter Abigail #3?

how is abigail able to adapt her demeanor to suit her purposes
How is Abigail able to adapt her demeanor to suit her purposes?
  • With her uncle—feigns concern and righteous indignation
  • With the girls—domineering and cruel
  • With Proctor—coy and seductive
how does miller use names to imply relationships
How does Miller use names to imply relationships?
  • The other girls say Mr. Proctor; Abigail calls him John. Her uncle always calls her Abigail; Proctor calls her Abby. This suggests an intimacy borne out in the flirtatious exchange of this act.
he admits he had reached for her in the past but for what
He admits he had reached for her in the past (but for what?)
  • To comfort her?
  • To confide in her?
  • Possibly more?
wipe it out of mind
“Wipe it out of mind”
  • Is this his way of telling her to pretend nothing ever happened or to forget about anything ever happening?
we never touched abby
“We never touched, Abby.”
  • Physically?
  • spiritually?
  • Denial?
he does not deny having looked up at her window
He does not deny having looked up at her window.
  • Does this mean lust?
  • Wondering if she’s okay?
does she exaggerate the seriousness of the relationship
Does she exaggerate the seriousness of the relationship?
  • I am waitin’ for you every night, yet he hasn’t stepped off his farm in seven months.

FYIPuritans believed that you did not have to actually commit the act to be guilty of it. They thought that if you lusted in your heart, it was the same thing as committing adultery. Therefore, John Proctor could have considered himself guilty of cheating on his wife without ever having physically touched Abby.

how do the putnams differ from proctor and rebecca on the issue of witchcraft
How do the Putnams differ from Proctor and Rebecca on the issue of witchcraft?
  • Putnams seem determined to prove that witchcraft is afoot.
  • Proctor and Rebecca believe there is a natural explanation for the children’s behavior.
why might ann putnam hate rebecca nurse
Why might Ann Putnam hate Rebecca Nurse?
  • Ann Putnam has lost seven babies in infancy. Now her only surviving child is behaving strangely and is ill.
  • Rebecca Nurse has 11 children and 26 grandchildren all of whom seem to be healthy.

FYIIn his commentary on the play, Miller describes Rebecca and Francis Nurse as people highly respected for their moral character, good judgment, and success. He notes that, before the arrival of Parris, the Nurses and their friends had blocked the appointment of a minister supported by the Putnams. Political differences also were leading to conflicts between the Nurses’ friends and the town authorities allied with the Putnams.

sagacious advice
Sagacious Advice

“I think she’ll wake in time. Pray calm yourselves. I have eleven children, and I am twenty-six times a grandma, and I have seen them all through their sill seasons, and when it come on them they will run the Devil bowlegged keeping up with their mischief. I think she’ll wake when she tires of it. A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back.”

more wise advice
More Wise Advice
  • “Mr. Parris, I think you’d best send Reverend Hale back as soon as he come. This will set us all to arguin’ again in the society, and we thought to have peace this year. I think we ought rely on the doctor now, and good prayer.”
  • “No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another kind, John. Clasp his hand, make your peace.”
abigail and mrs proctor
Abigail and Mrs. Proctor
  • Goody Proctor fired her.
  • Abigail is infatuated with John Proctor and believes he loves her.
  • Mrs. Proctor’s death would clear the way for marriage between them.
abigail vs john proctor
Abigail vs. John Proctor
  • He denies he ever gave her any reason to hope for there to be anything between them.
  • She thinks she loves him and wants to be his wife.
john proctor vs rev parris
John Proctor vs. Rev. Parris
  • Demands the deed to his house
  • Wastes the church money on extravagant furnishings
  • Preaches hellfire and damnation w/o mentioning God’s name
the putnams vs the nurses
The Putnams vs. The Nurses
  • The Nurses own land that the Putnams covet
  • Rebecca Nurse has never lost a child nor grandchild, while Mrs. Putnam has lost all but one of her children
  • The Nurses opposed the Putnams’ choice for a minister
john proctor vs elizabeth proctor
John Proctor vs Elizabeth Proctor
  • The relationship between the Proctors is strained.
  • Elizabeth is suspicious of John.
  • Elizabeth has been sick for a long time.
  • John Proctor confessed his lust to her
  • They don’t talk much
“What victory would the Devil have to win a soul already bad? It is the best the Devil wants, and who is better than a minister?”
  • Hale makes the assumption that the minister must be the best person in the village, but the facts show that Parris is not a good man.
you are god s instrument put in our hands to discover the devil s agents among us
“You are God’s instrument put in our hands to discover the Devil’s agents among us…”
  • Instead of saving the village from the Devil, he is persuading her to make false accusations of witchcraft against innocent people.
The authority of the church is supreme and if church members don’t obey the minister, chaos will ensue, and the church will be destroyed.

Reverend Parris

Reverend Hale

Individual conscience is the final authority, and every church member has the right to say what he believes.

John Proctor

what victory would the devil have to win a soul already bad
“What victory would the devil have to win a soul already bad?”

Foreshadows the eventual charges

against respectable citizens.

gossip gossip gossip
  • Rev. Parris tells Abigail that he heard it said that Goody Proctor doesn’t go to church as often as she used to because she doesn’t want to sit next to something soiled.
  • Goody Putnam says she heard Betty flew over Ingersoll’s barn.
  • Abigail has been out of work for seven months, and no one will hire her which probably means people are speculating about why the Proctor’s fired her.
  • Goody Putnam tells everyone that Rev. Hale discovered a witch in Beverly last year.
  • Mr. Putnam says there are children dying in the village.
  • Rev Parris says “I don’t preach for the little children. It isn’t the children who are unmindful of their obligations toward this ministry.” He doesn’t think the children are important enough to be instructed and yet it’s the children who start the cries of witchcraft.
  • The audience knows the children are faking their illness, but some of the characters do not know.
  • Rev. Hale said the devil can’t overcome a minister, and yet Rev. Parris is evil..
  • Rev. Hale said Tituba was an instrument for saving the village, she was really be used to accuse innocent people.
  • What she said to the adults as opposed to what she said when the adults were gone.
  • She encourages Parris to go pray with the people seemingly worried about his ministry, but she really just wants to get him out of the room.
  • All that mushy stuff she said to John Proctor because she knew Betty would hear it.
in his stage directions what are some good and bad points that miller observes about the puritans
In his stage directions, what are some good and bad points that Miller observes about the Puritans?
  • Miller notes the Puritans' severe style of living and seems to recognize it as both beneficial and detrimental. His use of the phrase "clean spareness" implies that he is impressed with their lack of clutter and random knick-knacks lying about. Other phrases such as "leaded panes" and "raw and unmellowed" emphasize how harsh and oppressive their style of living. This atmosphere is partly responsible for the events that transpire.
who is betty and what is wrong with her
Who is Betty and what is wrong with her?
  • Betty Parris is Reverend Parris' only child and Abigail Williams' cousin. She is unconscious and no one has been able to wake her. She entered this state the night before when her father caught her dancing with Abigail and a number of their friends. This is not the only thing wrong with Betty-- she is also under the influence of Abigail and is unable to consider the consequences of her actions. Like many girls of that age, Betty seems to want to fit in with the older girls and blindly follows their example in accusing myriad villagers.

When Abigail enters, she is described as "a strikingly beautiful girl. . . with an endless capacity for dissembling." What does the phrase "endless capacity for dissembling" suggest?

  • This choice of wording suggests that beneath her beautiful exterior, Abigail is a lying, manipulative girl who will stop at nothing to accomplish her goals. This is proven later when she condemns a number of the village women to die (including Elizabeth Proctor) so that she can be with John Proctor.
Why does Rev. Parris become so upset at the thought that Betty's illness is a result of unnatural causes?
  • Rev. Parris sees himself as a man of God-- as the pastor of a theocratic village, he must. This being said, he feels that the Devil should be attacking the town's nefarious residents, not its holiest citizen.
what negative aspect of his character does this reveal
What negative aspect of his character does this reveal?
  • This reveals Rev. Parris' pride and arrogance. He believes that his holiness will shield him from the Devil's attacks. Rev. Parris refuses to acknowledge that he is fallible whereas in reality he is just as frail as any member of his flock, if not more so.
what innuendo does rev parris make about abigail s character
What innuendo does Rev. Parris make about Abigail's character?
  • Rev. Parris asks Abigail if her name is "entirely white" in the town. He also asks her what Goody Proctor meant by referring to her as "soiled." This suggests that Abigail may be participating in improper sexual activities behind her uncle's back.
how does abigail respond
How does Abigail respond?
  • Abigail responds by first insisting that she has a reputation. After she has proclaimed her own innocence, Abigail points the finger of blame elsewhere-- a pattern that reappears again and again in The Crucible. Abigail slanders Elizabeth Proctor by claiming she is "a bitter woman, a lying, cold sniveling. . . gossiping liar!"
How does Goody Putnam move the plot along?(Goody is a term of address much like our Mrs. It is short for Goodwoman.)
  • Goody Putnam helps the scene transition from the debate over Abigail's and Elizabeth Proctor's reputations to witchcraft. She also adds to the mounting evidence of "witchcraft" by mentioning the sickness of her daughter, Ruth.
what motivation is miller attributing to thomas putnam s actions
What motivation is Miller attributing to Thomas Putnam's actions?
  • Thomas Putnam acts out of personal vengeance in The Crucible. He is angry that his candidate for minister was not chosen and sees this as the ideal opportunity for retribution.
what do we learn from the conversation that mercy abigail and mary warren have while alone
What do we learn from the conversation that Mercy, Abigail and Mary Warren have while alone?
  • During the conversation we learn of the girls' plan to cover up their actions. We also learn that they do not truly believe in witchcraft. While it is revealed that certain rituals were performed (e.g. Abigail drinking a blood charm), no one saw the Devil or signed his book.
how do we see that abigail is the acknowledged leader of this group
How do we see that Abigail is the acknowledged leader of this group?
  • Abigail has the power of authority over the other girls. They submit to her will and value her opinion. They have no doubt that Abigail will follow through with her threats, and therefore cower when she pressures them.
as abby flirts with john proctor what is her opinion of betty s illness
As Abby flirts with John Proctor, what is her opinion of Betty's illness?
  • Abby does not acknowledge the supernatural as the cause. Rather, she attributes it to "going silly somehow." This directly contradicts the later accusations that the strange happenings in the village-- including Betty's illness-- were due to witchcraft.
what seems to be the attitude of giles corey and the other gathered in the house
What seems to be the attitude of Giles Corey and the other gathered in the house?
  • Giles Corey-- with his desire to see Betty fly-- embodies the general attitude of the crows. They have all heard claims of the supernatural and want to see it for themselves. This longing for a display of the paranormal is partially due to the strict monotony of their society. The rumors of witchcraft are new and exciting and are a welcome break from the usual routine.

Rebecca Nurse, who walks to Betty's bed and quiets her with her presence, is a voice of reason and rationality. To what does she attribute Betty's condition?

  • Rebecca Nurse attributes Betty's condition to normal childhood silliness. Having had many children, she knows that they all do strange things at one time or another-- usually to attract attention-- and will eventually tire of it and stop. Her opinion should be respected even more than that of Hale, the "specialist" who also attempts a diagnosis. Hale has spent a great amount of time studying books, but it is easy to see that what little time he has spent with children has been in the context of witchcraft. Rebecca Nurse has raised eleven children and knows more about them than anyone else in the community.

Who is Rev. Hale, and why was he sent for? Why does Rebecca Nurse tell Parris that Hale should be sent home rather than allowed to see Betty?

  • Rev. Hale is an expert in the supernatural called to Salem to investigate the "witchcraft." Rebecca Nurse tells Parris that Hale should be sent home because she can already see the results of his investigation. Having come all the way to Salem to investigate witchcraft, it is unlikely that Rev. Hale will leave without finding what he is looking for, whether it exists or not. She knows that his presence will only bring more strife and division to the community.
why are the putnams willing to accept this
Why are the Putnams willing to accept this?
  • The Putnams cannot accept this due to desperation, and a grudge against the Nurse family. They believe that their only surviving child of eight is affected by witchcraft, which happens to be Rev. Hale's area of specialty. On top of this, there has been a long-standing dispute between the Putnams and the Nurses over land. Therefore, the Putnams are likely to disagree with the Nurses over anything and everything.
why do putnam and proctor get into an argument
Why do Putnam and Proctor get into an argument?
  • Putnam says that because Proctor doesn't even go to church on Sundays, Proctor has no right to judge him. Proctor replies that it isn't worth coming five miles to church because all Parris talks about is hellfire and damnation. He also claims others avoid church as well because Parris hardly ever mentions God anymore.
how does proctor s subsequent comment on hellfire and damnation cause an outburst from rev parris
How does Proctor's subsequent comment on hellfire and damnation cause an outburst from Rev. Parris?
  • Rev. Parris is greatly offended and shocked that anyone would dare speak out against him and his preaching style. He is very proud of his sermons and believes that the community needs to hear his message. This belief is not solely one of Parris' idiosyncrasies-- hellfire and damnation are cornerstones of the Puritan religion. Man was depicted as continuously existing on the verge of eternal damnation. In reality, Proctor's vocal objection to hellfire and damnation is by far more atypical than Parris' adherence to it.
in this argument the theme of authority explicitly arises what are the two points of view
In this argument, the theme of authority explicitly arises. What are the two points of view?
  • Parris feels that, since he is an authority figure, his power should be absolute and unquestionable. Proctor feels that authority doesn't need to be obeyed if it is unjust or corrupt-- two adjectives he believes apply to Parris. As it is revealed later, he strongly dislikes the pastor of the Salem congregation, and because of this he has gone to such extreme lengths as not having his third child baptized.
in what way to parris and putnam find themselves aligned on this question
In what way to Parris and Putnam find themselves aligned on this question?
  • Parris and Putnam feel that the church authority must be obeyed unquestioningly, in contrast that one needn't go to church if the reverend is corrupt.
who is giles corey and how does proctor treat him
Who is Giles Corey and how does Proctor treat him?
  • Giles Corey is a slow-- but ultimately honorable-- old man. Proctor treats him with familiar warmth. Even when they disagree the two men have a long-standing friendship that cannot be overlooked.
how is putnam s materialistic ambition further revealed in his argument with proctor
How is Putnam's materialistic ambition further revealed in his argument with Proctor?
  • Putnam is very concerned about the land he considers his and the materials on it. In fact, he is so concerned about it that he is willing to get into a physical confrontation over the matter. Putnam's materialistic ambition becomes more important as the play progresses-- it is his motive for leading his daughter to charge George Jacobs with witchcraft.

The Rev. Hale enters. From his comments, where may we infer that he believes that authority resides, and what does this say of his personality?

  • Rev. Hale believes that authority resides in his books-- he uses the phrase "weighted with authority" to describe them. This indicates that he values education very highly. It can be inferred that through reading this authoritative information one might come to possess authority oneself. This seems to be the basis behind his influence-- his power is based on his extensive study of this type of material.
who is tituba and of what does abigail accuse her
Who is Tituba and of what does Abigail accuse her?
  • Tituba is Rev. Parris' slave from Barbados. She has extensive knowledge of traditional Barbados rituals, viewed by the Puritans as "pagan" and therefore related to witchcraft. Abigail plays on this notion and accuses Tituba of calling the Devil and trying to get her to drink some of the brew they created the night before. Abigail also accuses Tituba of making her drink blood; earlier it was revealed that Abigail needed no persuasion to do it.
why has abigail turned on tituba and accused her of these things
Why has Abigail turned on Tituba and accused her of these things?
  • Tituba is the ideal suspect-- a slave, outside the community, and from a "questionable" background in Barbados. As Hale makes these accusations against Abigail-- both directly and indirectly-- she immediately directs them to Tituba in order to the draw any suspicion away from her.
What does Putnam say that terrifies Tituba and causes her to say that she told the devil that she did not want to work for him?
  • Putnam says that Tituba must be hanged. Fearing for her life, she confesses that she told the devil this, in hopes it will save her from death.
Why does Tituba come up with the names Goody Good and Goody Osburn as the two women she saw consorting with the devil?
  • Tituba has fallen victim to the power of suggestion. Putnam asks her if she has ever seen Goody Good or Goody Osborn with the devil. This leads Tituba to believe that their names are the "right" answers that will free her from their accusations or at least divert some of the suspicion. This causes her to name the women, thereby giving the men what they want to hear.
in your opinion what motivates abby and betty to begin denouncing everyone
In your opinion, what motivates Abby and Betty to begin denouncing everyone?
  • As the play progresses, a rather unflattering portrait of Abigail is painted. She is a calculating liar intent on stealing, manipulating, and bringing chaos to the village in order to accomplish her goals. Because of this, it becomes altogether clear that the wild accusations are for the purpose of revenge. Abigail finds herself thrust into a position of power with the ability to bring down anyone who has ever slighted her. Betty's character is not described in such great detail, but one can safely assume that her accusations are made for the purpose of being accepted by Abigail and the older girls.