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The Crucible Introduction

Here is all the background information you need before reading "The Crucible".

Danielle Hill

on 18 August 2014

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Transcript of The Crucible Introduction

An Introduction to Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"
Arthur Miller
Born in 1915 and died in 2005
Was married to Marilyn Monroe, but divorced 1 year before her death.
American Playwright

The Crucible
Written in 1952
Based during the Salem Witch Trials
Written in response to “The Red Scare” or “McCarthyism”

The Salem Witch Trials
"The Red Scare"
There is a witch amongst us....
General History
Traits of modern witch…(in the movies)
Traits of a Witch
Accusation Process
The Salem Witch Trials began in what is now known as Danvers Massachusetts.

In the 17th century Danvers was known as Salem Massachusetts.

The Salem Witch Trials lasted from June of 1692 to September of 1692.

By the end of the trials 150 people had spent time in jail and 24 innocent people were killed.

The trials began with 11 year old Abigail Williams and 9 year old Elizabeth Parris.

These girls acted in a manner that was strange to the Puritans of the time.

Abigail Williams was Elizabeth’s cousin. Elizabeth Parris was the daughter of the town minister.

Abigail and Elizabeth were not allowed to have toys or play like most children of the time would, this was seen as idleness and sinful.

Instead the girls were encouraged to concentrate on chores and studying bible verses.

At night Abigail and Elizabeth would spend their nights by the fire with Reverend Parris’s slave Tituba (from Barbados).

Tituba entertained the girls with magic, fortune telling and story telling from her homeland.

This was forbidden by Puritan law.

Abigail and Elizabeth began acting strangely: speaking in tongues and having wild convulsions.

The village doctor was called in, he was sure the girls were victims of witch craft.

One Sunday in January as the Reverend began his sermon the girls in town fell into a fit.

The town concerned for the girls asked who had cast a spell on them.

Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne were named.

Tituba, a slave. Sarah Good, a homeless woman. Sarah Osborne a woman who had married her servant.

Many of those accused were prominent members of the Salem community.

Many of these characters are seen in the play The Crucible.



Not conforming to Puritan law

Not getting along with your neighbor

Spending time alone


The afflicted person makes a complaint to the Magistrate about a suspected witch.  The complaint is sometimes made through a third person.

The Magistrate issues a warrant for the arrest of the accused person.

The accused person is taken into custody and examined by two or more Magistrates. 

If, after listening to testimony, the Magistrate believes that the accused person is probably guilty, the accused is sent to jail for possible reexamination and to await trial.

The case is presented to the Grand Jury.  Depositions relating to the guilt or innocence of the accused are entered into evidence.

If the accused is indicted by the Grand Jury, he or she is tried before the Court of Oyer and Terminer.  A jury, instructed by the Court, decides the defendant's guilt.

The convicted defendant receives his or her sentence from the Court.  In each case at Salem, the convicted defendant was sentenced to be hanged on a specified date.

The Sheriff and his deputies carry out the sentence of death on the specified date.

If you were accused you could...
Flee Salem!

Accuse someone else

Get pregnant

Confess, even though you’re innocent

Plead innocence and await trial

Refuse to stand trial and await the consequences

Listening to tiny people play music

Watching people move in a magic box

Wearing open toed shoes

Having vast amounts of information available instantly

Standing on water

Moving great distances in short periods of time

In the aftermath of World War II as relations between the US and the Soviet Union deteriorated

People worried that communists might try to subvert schools, labor unions, and other institutions.

In 1950 Joseph McCarthy began a campaign using smear tactics, bullying and innuendo to identify and purge communists and "fellow travelers" in government.

Cartoonist Herb Block recognized the danger to civil liberties posed by such activities, warned of them in his work and coined the phrase "McCarthyism" in his cartoons.

This was in response to Senator McCarthy's pronouncement that he had in his hand a list of communists in the State Department.

For four years McCarthy attacked communism

Herb Block relentlessly attacked McCarthy’s heavy-handed tactics in his cartoons.

In June 1954, McCarthy was censured and in December condemned by the Senate.

One of you is a witch!

You know what a modern witch does, has anyone around you displayed these characteristics?

Have you?

A Modern Witch...
Can’t sit still

Likes to sing

Makes animal noises

Imitates other witches

So who is the witch?
Under each desk is a card (do not remove them until instructed).

Do not show anyone your card!

Some cards have instructions, some do not. If your card does not have instructions imitate a classmate.

Write down on a half sheet who you think the witch is (your top 5 picks)

After you’re told to stop we will see who the top 5 choices of witches are…
Full transcript