Puritanism. The Puritans Lifestyle Literature Religion Salem and the history of witchcraft Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible Events and Technology Timeline. The Puritans.
Puritanism • The Puritans • Lifestyle • Literature • Religion • Salem and the history of witchcraft • Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible • Events and Technology Timeline
The Puritans • The Puritans were an English religious group who came to the United States to practice their religion without interference from the Church of England. • The Puritans were pilgrims, but not all pilgrims were Puritans. • Most Puritans settled in towns in coastal Massachusetts just slightly north of Boston. • The Puritans had their own unique community and cultural practices, most of them based on their religious beliefs. • It is important for us to understand the Puritan customs and culture before we can begin reading The Crucible, which takes place in one of these Puritan communities: Salem, Massachusetts.
The Puritans • Puritans, sometimes called Separatists, are those who reject the organized denominations' claims of authority. • Church of England Separatists made up one small group, which began breaking away as early as the 16th Century. • By far the largest group of Puritans came out of the Presbyterian Church, while the second largest group came from the Baptists. • In a time when hatred and persecution existed between many denominations, every denomination in Europe hated and persecuted the Puritans. • One small group after another boarded ships and came to America.
The Puritans The "Witch House" dates back to the first Puritan settlers (1642). It was the home of a witch trial judge, Jonathan Corwin (who is not in The Crucible).
The Puritans--Summary • Theocracy: A government run by God, or in the absence of God, his church. It is a union of the church and state. • They wanted to reform their national church by eliminating every shred of Catholic influence • Their attempt to “purify” the Church of England and their own lives was based on the teachings of John Calvin • Left for the new world in 1620 to escape religious persecution and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The Puritans--Lifestyle • Religion played an important role in Puritan life. • The Puritans felt that they were chosen by God for a special purpose and that they must live every moment in a God-fearing manner. • Every man, woman, and child was expected to attend the meeting on the Sabbath without question. • Puritans were required to read the Bible which showed their religious discipline. • If they did not read the Bible, it was thought that they were worshiping the devil. • Preparations for the Sabbath began the day before. • All of the food had to be cooked and clothes ready. • No labor, not even sewing, could be done on the Sabbath.
The Puritans--Lifestyle • In church, the minister would deliver an emotional sermon that could last for two, three, even four hours at a time without restroom breaks or intermissions. • The Puritans listened intently to the terrible warnings of sin and punishment. • Church Deacons kept strict order in the church. Using a "staff," deacons would poke anyone misbehaving in church. • Churches were unheated and for many months of the year and in the winter were unbearably cold. • Women carried small foot-stoves from home full of hot coals which were used to warm their feet during the church service.
The Puritans--Literature • There was no reading for pleasure • Writers opposed ornate style—used only plain style. Reason, logic, order and clarity were more prized in literature than beauty or adornment. • Writing should be useful—a tool to help readers understand the Bible and guide them in their daily lives. • Types of literature: sermons, utilitarian, medical, religious, poetry (secretive) and personal narratives.
The Puritans--Religion • Total depravity: “In Adam’s fall we sinned all” Humankind is totally sinful through the fall of Adam and Eve and damned for eternity. • Predestination: You are “elect” (saved) or “unregenerate” (damned). Salvation belongs to the “elect”, or God’s chosen. No good works will help you become saved. • Limited atonement: Christ died only for the “elect”. • Grace: You could feel God’s grace in an intense emotional fashion. After receiving grace, you were “reborn” have thenceforth full power to do the will of God and the ability to live uprightly to the end.
Salem, Massachusetts, and the history of witchcraft • The most infamous occurrence involving the Puritans were the events that transpired in Salem, Mass. in 1692. • The events which led to the witch trials in Salem actually occurred in what is now the town of Danvers, then a parish of Salem Town, known as Salem Village. • Launching the hysteria was the bizarre, seemingly inexplicable behavior of two young girls; the daughter, Betty, and the niece, Abigail Williams, of the Salem Village minister, Reverend Samuel Parris.
Salem, Massachusetts, and the history of witchcraft • Puritans believed in witches and their ability to harm others. • They defined witchcraft as entering into a compact with the devil in exchange for certain powers to do evil. • Thus, witchcraft was considered a sin because it denied God’s superiority, and a crime because the witch could call up the Devil in his/her shape to perform cruel acts against others. • When witchcraft was suspected, it was important that it was investigated thoroughly and the tormentor(s) identified and judged.
Causes of Witchcraft Hysteria in Salem 1. Strong belief that Satan is acting in the world. ---------"The invisible world": disease, natural catastrophes, and bad fortune 2. A belief that Satan actively recruits witches and wizards ---------Prior witchcraft cases 3. A belief that a person afflicted by witchcraft exhibits certain symptoms. 4. A time of troubles, making it seem likely that Satan was active. ---------Congregational strife in Salem Village ---------Frontier wars with Indians 5. Stimulation of imaginations by Tituba (slave). 6. Teenage boredom. 7. Confessing "witches" adding credibility to earlier charges. 8. Old feuds (disputes within congregation, property disputes) between the accusers and the accused spurring charges of witchcraft.
The Crucible • Arthur Mille wrote the play The Crucible. • The play is a fictional recreation of the Salem witch trials, their origins, a psychological investigation of the act of persecution, and McCarthyism.
The Crucible • The McCarthy era's anti-communist trials destroyed lives and friendships. • Arthur Miller describes the paranoia that swept America - and the moment his then wife, Marilyn Monroe, became a bargaining chip in his own prosecution.
The Crucible • “It would probably never have occurred to me to write a play about the Salem witch trials of 1692 had I not seen some astonishing correspondences with that calamity in the America of the late 40s and early 50s.” • “My basic need was to respond to a phenomenon which, with only small exaggeration, one could say paralyzed a whole generation and in a short time dried up the habits of trust and toleration in public discourse.” • “I refer to the anti-communist rage that threatened to reach hysterical proportions and sometimes did.” • “I suppose we rapidly passed over anything like a discussion or debate, and into something quite different, a hunt not just for subversive people, but for ideas and even a suspect language.” • “The object was to destroy the least credibility of any and all ideas associated with socialism and communism, whose proponents were assumed to be either knowing or unwitting agents of Soviet subversion.”
The Hollywood Blacklist • The Salem Witch Trials really did happen, but Arthur Miller used a more recent example from American history as the basis for The Crucible: McCarthyism. • In the 1950’s many famous people were accused of being Communists and were called to testify: Lucille Ball ("I Love Lucy"), Ronald Reagan (though he became a "friendly witness" and named names of those he reportedly saw at Communist meetings), Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and of course, Arthur Miller.
The Cold War revived the anti-communist hysteria that had gripped the United States after World War I. • In 1947 Congress revived the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), opposed by Herb Block since its inception in the 1930s and declared by President Truman to be itself the most un-American activity. • Herb Block comments: "The FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, helped provide the committee with material from its aptly named ‘raw files'. • Some producers, directors and screen writers refused to testify or to play the ‘name game' in which the committee demanded the names of associates, who could then be called on to name others thus providing an ever-expanding list of suspects to be summoned." Communism
Communism • Even with Senator Joseph McCarthy on the wane, the general hysteria continued in many forms by assorted super patriots. • In the summer of 1954, a branch of the American Legion denounced the Girl Scouts, calling the "one world" ideas advocated in their publications "un-American."
“You read books, eh?” • During the postwar anti-communist campaign hundreds of elementary and high school teachers were investigated and lost their jobs, sometimes as a result of anti-subversive groups. • This became one way to ‘get the heat off of you’ if you were in danger of being black listed a communist.
The play is social commentary made by Miller in response to the McCarthy Un-American, witch hunt trials of the 1950’s. "The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because the enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer - the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs in Government we can give."
The Crucible is a play by Arthur Miller, which explores the Salem Witch Trials. It does not maintain all authentic situations from the historical events. However, it does demonstrate how hysteria and blind faith can corrupt individuals, even those with good intentions.
A Crucible is… • A vessel made of a refractory substance such as graphite or porcelain, used to used for melting materials at high temperatures. “Cleaning the metal – taking the bad out and leaving the good” • A place or occasion of severe test or trial