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Arthur Millers The Crucible


Famous Works. 1938- The Grass Still Grows ... Others pressured to name others as communists. Results of both Witch Hunts. Colonial Salem ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Arthur Millers The Crucible

Arthur Millers The Crucible
  • A Criticism of Current Affairs An Examination
    of History

Playwrights Bio
  • Arthur Miller was born in 1915 in New York City
  • He was the son of a coat manufacturer ruined by
    the Great Depression
  • Attended college at the University of Michigan
  • Married several times (Second wife was Marilyn

Famous Works
  • 1938- The Grass Still Grows
  • 1944- The Man Who Had All the Luck (Theater Guild
  • 1945- Focus (a novel attacking Anti-Semitism)
  • 1947- All My Sons (New York Drama Critics Award)
  • 1949- Death of a Salesman (Pulitzer Prize winner
    and considered one of the greatest contemporary
  • 1953- The Crucible (Tony Award)

The Crucible
  • Ostensibly about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692
  • Used trial documents but fictionalized
  • Combined, created or changed characters
  • Major trial events are relatively accurate
  • Really a criticism of the House Committee on
    Un-American Activities--McCarthyism

Makings of a Salem Witch Hunt
  • Salem was a village divided
  • Land ownership disputes
  • Dispute about reverend position compensation
  • People stubborn about deeply held beliefs
  • Salem was repressed
  • Expression of individual thoughts and desires
    frowned upon or even outlawed in a village
    governed by strict Theocracy
  • Children to be seen not heard were particularly
  • Spark Ignition
  • A group of girls were caught playing at magic and
    pressured into naming those who bewitched them
  • A special court was set up
  • Spectral evidence was used

Makings of a Communist Hunt
  • WWII rise of Communist Party in the US
  • Cold War becomes intense after USSR gains atomic
  • Conservatives in power
  • Truman initiates disloyalty laws
  • House of Un-American Activities Committee
  • Investigates communist activity
  • Alger Hiss and Rosenberg Cases
  • Hollywood Blacklist The Hollywood Ten
  • McCarthy and his accusations
  • Others pressured to name others as communists

Results of both Witch Hunts
  • Colonial Salem
  • 20 innocent people were executed
  • Dozens more were imprisoned
  • One was stoned to death
  • Families lost their land and livelihood
  • 1950s
  • Hundreds unjustly lost their jobs
  • 10 were jailed for 6 months to 2 years
  • 1 was sentenced to 5 years in prison
  • 2 were executed

Act 1
  • The Overture

What does the phrase endless capacity for
dissembling tell us about Abigail?
  • She is extremely deceptive
  • always question her reliability
  • Search for a hidden motive in her words

Why does Abigail admit to dancing in the forest?
  • She knows Parris saw them
  • It is a lesser offense than witchcraft
  • She hopes this will satisfy him and prevent
    further questioning and/or an accusation of

Function of forest at night
  • Practical function--makes sense that the girls
    would sneak into the forest at night so they
    wouldnt be observed dancing.
  • Atmospheric functionSalem in 1692 would be like
    a frontier outpost. Puritan inhabitants believed
    forest was a wild, dark placethe abode of
    heathens and evil spirits.
  • Figurative functionrepresents all that makes
    their community vulnerable to physical and
    spiritual attack.

Parris character revealed when questioning
  • His ministry is at stake
  • His reputation could be exposed to suspicion
  • Doesnt want to be blind-sided with info about
    her that others may have

Reverend Parris
  • because he uses the church to justify his demands
    for money.

  • because he wonders if those who oppose him serve
    the devil and because he thinks Proctor is the
    leader of a plot.

  • because he believes that church members must obey
    the pastor or chaos will ensue.

Abigails spotless reputation
  • Claims there are no disparaging rumors about her
  • Was discharged from Goody Proctors service.
  • Goody Proctor rarely goes to church to avoid
    sitting so close to something so soiled.
  • No one else in the village will hire her.

Abigails response
  • Attacks Goody Proctors character but does not
    deny the existence of the remark. (so there is a
    rumor about her!)
  • All the other women in the village are the same
    as Goody Proctor (so
    people do have doubts about her!)
  • Tries to change subject and put Parris on
    defensive (Do you begrudge my bed, Uncle?)
  • Calls Goody Proctor a gossiping liar.
  • (Her answers, however, suggest she is the one

Rev. Parris change of heart
  • Initially, doesnt believe there to be any
    witchcraft in Salem.
  • Putnam reminds him that he has taken Parris side
    in all contentious matters so far, but threatens
    to withdraw that support if Parris holds back in
    this matter.

FYI In a written commentary on the play, Miller
indicated that he considered Thomas Putnam one of
the plays principal villains. He notes that
Putnam was vindictive, with many grievances
against his neighbors. He had numerous
complaints involving disputes over ownership of
land. Miller notes that Putnam seems to have
played a key role in the accusations of
witchcraft. Some historians have concluded that
the real Thomas Putnam used accusations of
witchcraft as an excuse to gain land.
Reasons the Putnams believe the girls and Tituba
are involved in witchcraft.
  • Their babies were murdered
  • Ruth was close to conjuring up their spirits.
  • Some power of darkness struck her dumb.
  • A murdering witch is hiding among the people.

FYI Sneezing can occur when dust or pollen
irritates the lining in the nasal passages.
Congestion from colds or allergies can also force
a person to sneeze. Ruth Putnam may have had a
physical illness however, superstition also held
that sneezing might indicate that a possessed
person was expelling demons through the nose.
This may be the origin of the practice of saying
God bless you when a person sneezes. It also
probably is the reason Mercy suggests that
sneezing may restore Ruths senses.
Will the real Abigail please stand up!!
  • With the adults gone, Abigail becomes the
    dominant personality, telling the other girls
    what to say, threatening them and insinuating her
    capacity for violence if they betray her.

To fake or not to fake or is something really
wrong with Betty?
  • Responds when adults are out of room
  • Knows that Abigail did not reveal everything
    about that night in the forest (drinking a charm
    to kill Goody Proctor)

Enter John Proctor
  • Enter Abigail 3?

How is Abigail able to adapt her demeanor to suit
her purposes?
  • With her unclefeigns concern and righteous
  • With the girlsdomineering and cruel
  • With Proctorcoy and seductive

How does Miller use names to imply relationships?
  • The other girls say Mr. Proctor Abigail calls
    him John. Her uncle always calls her Abigail
    Proctor calls her Abby. This suggests an
    intimacy borne out in the flirtatious exchange of
    this act.

Who do you believe?
He admits he had reached for her in the past (but
for what?)
  • To comfort her?
  • To confide in her?
  • Possibly more?

Wipe it out of mind
  • Is this his way of telling her to pretend nothing
    ever happened or to forget about anything ever

We never touched, Abby.
  • Physically?
  • spiritually?
  • Denial?

He does not deny having looked up at her window.
  • Does this mean lust?
  • Wondering if shes okay?

Is John Proctor merely guilty of flirting with
  • Or something more?

Does she exaggerate the seriousness of the
  • I am waitin for you every night, yet he hasnt
    stepped off his farm in seven months.

FYI Puritans believed that you did not have to
actually commit the act to be guilty of it. They
thought that if you lusted in your heart, it was
the same thing as committing adultery.
Therefore, John Proctor could have considered
himself guilty of cheating on his wife without
ever having physically touched Abby.
How do the Putnams differ from Proctor and
Rebecca on the issue of witchcraft?
  • Putnams seem determined to prove that witchcraft
    is afoot.
  • Proctor and Rebecca believe there is a natural
    explanation for the childrens behavior.

Why might Ann Putnam hate Rebecca Nurse?
  • Ann Putnam has lost seven babies in infancy. Now
    her only surviving child is behaving strangely
    and is ill.
  • Rebecca Nurse has 11 children and 26
    grandchildren all of whom seem to be healthy.

FYI In his commentary on the play, Miller
describes Rebecca and Francis Nurse as people
highly respected for their moral character, good
judgment, and success. He notes that, before the
arrival of Parris, the Nurses and their friends
had blocked the appointment of a minister
supported by the Putnams. Political differences
also were leading to conflicts between the
Nurses friends and the town authorities allied
with the Putnams.
Sagacious Advice
  • I think shell wake in time. Pray calm
    yourselves. I have eleven children, and I am
    twenty-six times a grandma, and I have seen them
    all through their sill seasons, and when it come
    on them they will run the Devil bowlegged keeping
    up with their mischief. I think shell wake when
    she tires of it. A childs spirit is like a
    child, you can never catch it by running after
    it you must stand still, and, for love, it will
    soon itself come back.

More Wise Advice
  • Mr. Parris, I think youd best send Reverend
    Hale back as soon as he come. This will set us
    all to arguin again in the society, and we
    thought to have peace this year. I think we
    ought rely on the doctor now, and good prayer.
  • No, you cannot break charity with your minister.
    You are another kind, John. Clasp his hand,
    make your peace.

The Conflicts
Abigail and Mrs. Proctor
  • Goody Proctor fired her.
  • Abigail is infatuated with John Proctor and
    believes he loves her.
  • Mrs. Proctors death would clear the way for
    marriage between them.

Abigail vs. John Proctor
  • He denies he ever gave her any reason to hope for
    there to be anything between them.
  • She thinks she loves him and wants to be his wife.

John Proctor vs. Rev. Parris
  • Demands the deed to his house
  • Wastes the church money on extravagant
  • Preaches hellfire and damnation w/o mentioning
    Gods name

The Putnams vs. The Nurses
  • The Nurses own land that the Putnams covet
  • Rebecca Nurse has never lost a child nor
    grandchild, while Mrs. Putnam has lost all but
    one of her children
  • The Nurses opposed the Putnams choice for a

John Proctor vs Elizabeth Proctor
  • The relationship between the Proctors is
  • Elizabeth is suspicious of John.
  • Elizabeth has been sick for a long time.
  • John Proctor confessed his lust to her
  • They dont talk much

Giles Coreys charge against Thomas Putnam
  • Giles Corey is condemned for giving evidence that
    is hearsay, while equally invalid evidence is
    used to condemn persons for witchcraft.

…the world goes mad, and it profit nothing you
should lay the cause to the vengeance of a little
  • while he suggests that it is foolish to blame
    what has happened on the vengeance of a little
    girl, the audience knows that is the precise

I do not preach for children…It is not the
children who are unmindful of their obligations
toward this ministry,
  • Parris sees no reason to instruct the children
    about God, yet it is the young girls who are
    trying to commune with the devil and in an effort
    to conceal their misbehavior, they set in motion
    the events that will destroy Salem.

What victory would the Devil have to win a soul
already bad? It is the best the Devil wants,
and who is better than a minister?
  • Hale makes the assumption that the minister must
    be the best person in the village, but the facts
    show that Parris is not a good man.

You are Gods instrument put in our hands to
discover the Devils agents among us…
  • Instead of saving the village from the Devil, he
    is persuading her to make false accusations of
    witchcraft against innocent people.

  • The authority of the church is supreme and if
    church members dont obey the minister, chaos
    will ensue, and the church will be destroyed.
  • Reverend Parris
  • Reverend Hale

  • Individual conscience is the final authority, and
    every church member has the right to say what he
  • John Proctor

Hales visit reveals
  • John Proctor rarely attends church
  • One of their children is not baptized
  • John Proctor cannot say all of his commandments
  • Proctor doesnt like Parris
  • Elizabeth and Proctor do not believe that witches
    are among them

John Proctor as the voice of reason
  • Points out to Mary that not being able to say her
    commandments does not make Goody Good a witch
  • Its strange work for a Christian girl to hand
    old women.
  • Its hard to think so pious a woman be secretly
    a Devils bitch after seventy year of such good
  • In response to Hales argument that those who
    have been convicted of witchcraft have confessed
    to it, he says, And why not, if they must hang
    for denyin it?
  • Wonders if the court will believe his story when
    Hale doubts Elizabeth.

The charges
  • For the marvelous and supernatural murder of
    Goody Putnams babies
  • For bewitching Walcotts pigs
  • For sending her spirit to stick a needle in
    Abigail Williams
  • Rebecca Nurse
  • Martha Corey
  • Elizabeth Proctor

My wife is the very brick and mortar of the
  • Francis Nurse was saying that his wife is the
    material of which Salems religious community is
    built and the substance that holds it together.

Your justice would freeze beer.
  • Hyperbole
  • used to characterize Elizabeth as unforgiving and

What victory would the devil have to win a soul
already bad?
  • Foreshadows the eventual charges
  • against respectable citizens.

There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should
be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient
  • Hale defending the witch trials when
  • Rebecca Nurse is arrested.

I cannot think the Devil may own a womans soul
when she keeps an upright way.
  • Represents Elizabeth Proctors view
  • about the charges of witchcraft.

I cannot sleep for dreamin I cannot dream but
I wake and walk about the house as though Id
find you comin through some door.
  • Demonstrates Abigails obsession with
  • John Proctor.

We are only what we always were, but naked now.
And the wind, Gods icy wind, will blow!
  • People are either virtuous or they are not. It
    doesnt matter whether their true nature is
    secret or common knowledge, God knows

Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your
hands of this!
  • allusion
  • By doing nothing to stop it, Hale is guilty of
    whatever happens to the accused people.

I have three childrenhow may I teach them to
walk like men in the world, and I sold my
  • A person must set a good example not only with
    words but also with deeds.

…A fire is burning! I hear the boot of
Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my
face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail
to bring men out of ignorance, as I have
quailed, and as you quail now when you know in
all your black hearts that this be fraudGod
damns our kind especially, and we will burn
  • When you know someone is committing a wrong, but
    you dont do anything about it, you are more
    guilty than the person who committed the wrong.
    God will surely punish you accordingly.

She thinks to dance with me on my wifes grave!
And well she might, for I thought of her softly.
God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in
such sweat. But it is a whores vengeance, and
you must see it.
  • Proctor reveals Abigails motivation in
  • seeing his wife condemned.

Let you not mistake your duty as I mistook my
own. I came into this village like a bridegroom
to his beloved bearing gifts of high religion
the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I
touched with my bright confidence, it died and
where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood
flowed up.
  • Hale realizes his part in the witch trials
  • and is trying to convince Elizabeth to compel
    Proctor to confess