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The Crucible Study Guide
Transcript of The Crucible Study Guide
by Arthur Miller Themes Puritanism and Individuality
The Danger of Ideology
Reputation and Integrity Symbols The play The Crucible is itself a symbol. It was written in the early 1950s, when intense American fears of Communism allowed Joseph McCarthy, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, to rise to national power through his Congressional Investigations (called "witch hunts" by McCarthy's opponents) of Communists in America. As in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, McCarthy and his followers created a hysterical fear among the population, and silence was considered an indication of guilt. Just as many non-witchesconfessed to committing witchcraft, many non-Communists confessed to being Communists and falsely named others as Communists in order to evade punishment. The entire play The Crucible can therefore be seen as a symbol of the hysterical anti-Communism of the early 1950s, though it should not be seen as only a symbol. The themes it defines and explores are timeless and applicable beyond the time and place in which they were written or set. Characters
unvoiced resentment builds up over time among the citizens of Salem
Abigail and Proctor have an affair
Elizabeth Proctor discovers the affair and fires Abigail
Parris discovers the girls dancing in the forest as Tituba chants over a cauldron
Betty and other girls fall ill. John Proctor
Deputy Governor Danforth
protagonist Antagonist Reverend Parris's slave, Tituba, is a woman from Barbados who practices what the Puritans view as "black magic"
She only does this because the conniving Abigail manipulates her into doing it. Though Tituba admits her supposed sin, she is not given a reprieve like the others who confess. (WHY)
She is condemned to death
nothing directly comments on it but RACISM undoubtedly plays a large part in her fate IRONY It's ironic that the Puritans, who came to
America to escape religious persecution
would practice such deliberate, cruel, and ignorant persecution themselves her skills of manipulation are prodigous
when she is very close to getting busted for dabbling in witchcraft, she skillfully manages to pin the whole thing on Tituba and several of Salem's other second-class citizens
The horrible thing is that Abigail is the one who persuaded Tituba to go out and cast the spells. Ever since Abigail's brief affair with John Proctor, she's been out to get his wife, Elizabeth...hoping to get rid of her and take her place at John's side Forest symbolizes Evil Act One: Quotes "There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!"
2. "I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men!! And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not, I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet!" “I want to open myself!...I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss his hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!" "I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him preach only hellfire and bloody damnation. Take it to heart, Mr. Parris. There are many others who stay away from the church these days because you hardly mention God anymore" Hysteria Themes Puritanism
vs. Individualism The Danger Ideology Reputation and Integrity pg. 10 PARRIS IS WORRIED WHAT THE PURITANS WILL THINK OF HIM BECAUSE OF BETTY 1. John Proctor tells Abigail NO to save his reputation p. 10; Abigail trying to convince Parris that all they did was dance in the forest The entire first act is building up hysteria in the town
and the end of the Act is Abigail and Tituba trying to convince Hale that other people were in the woods as witches...p.48 pg. 36 Mrs. Putnam is trying to convince Hale that Parris's daughter Betty's soul was taken pg. 29 Parris defends his sermons
against Proctor pg. 41 Mr. Hale is beginning to second guess
himself and he is the highest in charge Abigail is trying to convince Betty that she did drink
blood and not to tell anyone...pg. 19-20