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The Crucible


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Title: The Crucible

The Crucible
  • By Arthur Miller

Reverend Parris
  • Pastor of the church in Salem
  • He is the father of Betty and the uncle of
    Abigail Williams. 
  • The witch scare began with his daughters
    mysterious illness.

  • Servant to the Parris household
  • She is a native of Barbados. 
  • She is enlisted by Ruth Putnam and Abigail to
    cast spells and create charms. 

Abigail Williams
  • Orphaned niece of Reverend Parris
  • Formerly a servant in the Proctor household
  • She is the leader of the girls.

John Proctor
  • Husband to Elizabeth
  • A prominent landholder and farmer in the Salem

Elizabeth Proctor
  • Wife of John Proctor

Deputy Governor Danforth
  • The Deputy Governor of Massachusetts and
    presiding office of the court

The Girls
  • Betty Parris- Daughter of the Reverend, cousin to
    Abigail Williams.  One of the initial accusers.
  • Susanna Walcott- Accused of witchcraft
  • Mercy Lewis- Servant to the Putnam household. 
    One of the accusers
  • Mary Warren-Servant to the Proctor household. 
    One of the accusers.

Other Characters
  • Mrs. Ann Putnam- A bitter woman who sides with
    the accusers
  • Thomas Putnam- Anns husband for whom the witch
    trials are a means of increasing his already
    considerable land holdings. An enemy of Reverend
  • Rebecca Nurse- A prominent citizen of Salem,
    famous throughout Massachusetts for her virtue
    and charity
  • Giles Corey- A prominent landholder in Salem
  • Reverend John Hale- Another minister- from
    Beverly, Massachusetts- famous for his study of
    witchcraft and witches.
  • Francis Nurse- Rebeccas husband
  • Ezekiel Cheever- Town constable (peace officer)
  • Marshal Herrick- Town jailer
  • Judge Hathorne- The inflexible judge in the witch
    trials. A distant ancestor of Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Sarah Good- One of the condemned.
  • Hopkins- A guard in the jail.

Arthur Miller
  • 1915-2005
  • Called the greatest living American playwright
  • Known for Death of a Salesman and The Crucible
  • Plays contain themes of morality vs. pressures
    from society and family
  • Wrote The Crucible, which uses the Salem
    witchcraft trials of 1692 to attack the
    anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s.
    Comparison made people uncomfortable
  • He believed the hysteria surrounding the witch
    craft trials in Puritan New England paralleled
    the climate of McCarthyism Senator Joseph
    McCarthys obsessive quest to uncover communist
    party infiltration of American institutions.
  • After the publication of the The Crucible, Miller
    himself was investigated for possible
    associations with the communist party.
  • He refused to give information regarding his
    colleagues and was found guilty of contempt of
    court. His sentence was later overturned.

  • McCarthyism is the term used to describe a period
    of intense suspicion in the United States during
    the early 1950s.
  • It began when Senator Joseph McCarthy, a U.S.
    senator from Wisconsin, claimed that communists
    had infiltrated the Department of State.
  • Communism is a political theory derived from Karl
    Marx, advocating class war and leading to a
    society in which all property is publicly owned
    and each person works and is paid according to
    their abilities and needs.
  • A special House Committee on Un-American
    Activities was formed to investigate allegations
    of communism.
  • During this period, people from all walks of life
    became the subjects of aggressive witch hunts
    often based on inconclusive, questionable

  • Persons accused of being communists were often
    denied employment in both the public and private
  • In the film industry alone, over 300 actors,
    writers, and directors were denied work in the
  • American writer, Arthur Miller, was one of those
    alleged to have been blacklisted.

  • McCarthys influence finally faltered in 1954
    when a famous CBS newsman, Edward R. Murrow,
    aired an investigative news report which revealed
    McCarthy as dishonest in his speeches and abusive
    in his interrogation of witnesses.
  • The public was finally made aware of how McCarthy
    was ruining the reputations of many individuals
    through false accusations of communism.

Edward R. Murrow
Witchcraft in Salem
  • Like all Puritans, the residents of Salem Village
    believed in witches and in witchcraft.
  • They believed that witchcraft was entering into
    a compact with the devil in exchange for certain
    powers to do evil.
  • They considered witchcraft both a sin and a
    crime it was a very serious accusation, which
    was carefully and thoroughly investigated.

Witchcraft in Salem
  • The witchcraft hysteria began in Salem,
    Massachusetts, in early 1692.
  • Reverend Samuel Parriss daughter and Abigail
    Williams started having fits of convulsion,
    screaming, and hallucination.
  • A doctor examined the girls and concluded that
    the only explanation for these bizarre behaviors
    was witchcraft.

Witchcraft in Salem
  • A recently published book of the time detailed
    the symptoms of witchcraft the girls fits were
    much like those described in the book.
  • Therefore, the Puritans of Salem were quick to
    believe the doctors diagnosis.

Witchcraft in Salem
  • The girls pointed fingers at Tituba (the Parris
    slave), Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn, which
    sparked a witch hunt.

Witchcraft in Salem
  • During the next eight months of terror, more than
    150 people were imprisoned for witchcraft.
  • By the time court was dismissed, 27 people had
    been convicted, 19 hanged, and 1 pressed to
  • The hysteria that snowballed in Salem reveals how
    deep the belief in the supernatural ran in
    colonial America.

Mob Mentality
  • The term mob mentality is used to refer to
    unique behavioral characteristics which emerge
    when people are in large groups. It is sometimes
    used disparagingly, as the term mob typically
    conjures up an image of a disorganized,
    aggressive, panicked group of people.

Mass Hysteria
  • Mass hysteria is a phenomenon in which a group of
    people simultaneously exhibit similar hysterical
    symptoms. Technically, mass hysteria involves
    physical effects, such as headache, nausea,
    dizziness, or a trance-like state or seizure-like

Dramatic License
  • Play was not intended to be a history
  • Researched the information for the witch trials
    from primary documents in Salem
  • Careful not to misrepresent characters or their
  • Made some changes for the sake of the story
  • Inferred from documents about Abigail and Johns
  • Abigail was actually only 11
  • Excluded some characters
  • Compressed time to make the play fit time
    constraints of performance

Key Features of Millars Literary Techniques
Authorial Intrusion
  • Interrupting the action to give the audience
    extra information often from his life or the
    audiences current social experience
  • These interruptions are often his means of direct

Allusion and Parable
  • Allusion-  brief and indirect reference to a
    person, place, thing or idea of historical,
    cultural, literary or political significance. 
  • Parable- a simple story used to illustrate a
    moral or spiritual lesson
  • Uses historical and social allusions to emphasize
    the theme of morality vs. social pressure
  • References to the Inquisition, Martin Luther,
    Biblical stories, and the Red Scare show periods
    of history when these types of events have

  • polite, indirect expressions which replace words
    and phrases considered harsh and impolite or
    which suggest something unpleasant.
  • Example
  • kick the bucket is a euphemism that describes
    the death of a person
  • downsizing is a euphemism for the distressing
    act of firing employees

  • A comparison between two things where one is said
    to be the other
  • Example
  • My brother was boiling mad. (This implies he was
    too angry.)
  • The assignment was a breeze. (This implies that
    the assignment was not difficult.)

Submerged Metaphor
  • The metaphoric vehicle is deep in meaning or
    requires a deeper understanding of the metaphoric
  • Example
  • "He legged it," which really means he ran
    whatever distance there was.

Situational Irony
  • Irony involving a situation in which actions have
    an effect that is opposite from what was
    intended, so that the outcome is contrary to what
    was expected.
  • Example
  • A fire station burns down
  • The marriage counselor files for divorce

  • A literary technique in which two or more ideas,
    places, characters and their actions are placed
    side by side in a narrative or a poem for the
    purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts.
  • Example
  • We notice the juxtaposition of light and
    darkness repeatedly. Consider an example from
    Act I, Scene V
  • O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!It
    seems she hangs upon the cheek of nightLike a
    rich jewel in an Ethiopes ear
  • Here, the radiant face of Juliet is juxtaposed
    with a black Africans dark skin. Romeo admires
    Juliet by saying that her face seems brighter
    than brightly lit torches in the hall. He says
    that at night her face glows like a bright jewel
    that shines against the dark skin of an African.

  • A stylistic device in which a number of words,
    having the same first consonant sound, occur
    close together in a series.
  • Example
  • But a better butter makes a batter better.
  • A big bully beats a baby boy.

  • A figure of speech, which involves an
    exaggeration of ideas for the sake of emphasis.
  • Example
  • My grandmother is as old as the hills.
  • Your suitcase weighs a ton!
  • I am dying of shame.

  • It is a figure of speech that replaces the name
    of a thing with the name of something else with
    which it is closely associated.
  • Let me give you a hand. (Hand means help.)
  • Used distinct characters to represent a type of
    character found in nearly every society

  • The art of speaking and writing effectively
  • Utilizes well-planned presentation of facts and
    ideas in clear, persuasive, and attractive

Dynamic Character
  • A literary or dramatic character who undergoes an
    important inner change, as a change in
    personality or attitude

  • Intended to teach, particularly in having moral
    instruction as an ulterior motive.