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Introduction to The Crucible

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Jessica Yager

on 7 October 2013

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Transcript of Introduction to The Crucible

Introduction to The Crucible
Meet the Author
Basic Info
Born – NY City Oct. 17, 1915
Wrote many plays including "Death of a Salesman" and "All My Sons"
"The Crucible" premiered in 1953
Arthur Miller was accused during the Red Scare
He said, “A political policy is equated
with moral right and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence."
Arthur Miller said, “. . . The tragic feeling evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is willing to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing – his sense of personal dignity.”
McCarthyism and the Red Scare
Historical Context
Salem, Massachusetts 1692
Salem Witch Trials
Approx. 21 characters
Based on real people, places, & events
Crucible – a test or trial of events

Introduction of the play itself
Character Details
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible as a parallel between the Salem Witch Trials and current events
A “witch hunt” was happening in the United States
The accused were part of the Communist Party or who were Communist sympathizers.
1938 House of Un-American Activities Committee was formed
1940 Congress passes Alien Registration Act
Post World War II, the Red Scare began - Red, for the color of Russia's flag
How Did it Work?
1947 - HUAC believes communism is spread through Mass media
Movies and Hollywood was too liberal
19 Witnesses were called in (Actors, writers, directors)
11 Were asked to testify
10 stood silent (Hollywood Ten)
Hollywood Ten
Hollywood decided to suspend them without pay
Message sent: point fingers or you will be punished and seen as a sympathizer
Over 200 people lost jobs and were blacklisted
McCarthy Trials
In 1950, Senator McCarthy said he had names of 200 card-carrying Communists
People were forced to name names
Trials were held
Miller was blacklisted and wrote "The Crucible" to spread his message
Miller said:
The FBI had long since infiltrated the Party, and informers had long ago identified the participants in various meetings. The main point of the hearings, precisely as in seventeenth-century Salem, was that the accused make public confession, damn his confederates as well as his Devil master, and guarantee his sterling new allegiance by breaking disgusting old vows—whereupon he was let loose to rejoin the society of extremely decent people. In other words, the same spiritual nugget lay folded within both procedures—an act of contrition done not in solemn privacy but out in public air.”

Settled by Puritans in 1626
Left England due to religious persecution
Religion guides their daily life
Very religious, no time for horseplay - no dancing
Children were seen, not heard
The Witch Trials
June to September in 1692
Betty Parris and other children were ill - Doctors could not find a reason
Witchcraft was thought to be the cause
A servant and beggar were arrested
More and more people were accused and arrested
Punishment=Death by hanging
Confession=life and excommunication
19 people were hanged
1 person was pressed to death
Hundreds were imprisoned
People were suspicious and fearful
The devil was the source of evil
Teenagers were bored (All accusers were teenage girls)
Jealousy - if you don't like someone, accuse them
Greed - if you want someone's property, accuse them
Allegory: A work of literature that tells one story on the surface, but is referencing another story
Protagonist: Main Character
Antagonist: Opposition to the protagonist
Main Characters
John & Elizabeth Proctor - Farmer and Wife
Abigail Williams - leader of girls, affair with John Proctor
Reverend Parris - Paranoid minister
John Hale - reverend, witchcraft expert
Tituba - Parris's slave
For Homework
Find 10 facts about the Salem Witch Trials
Find three events in history that can be figuratively or literally compared to the witch trials
Answer this: Are you capable of being swayed by public opinion or fear? Why or why not?
Full transcript