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Title: Witches and Communists: The Crucible and the Cold War


1
Witches and CommunistsThe Crucible and the Cold
War
  • An Online Professional
  • Development Seminar
  • Florence Dore
  • Assistant Professor of EnglishUniversity of
    North Carolina at Chapel HillNational Humanities
    Center Fellow

2
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
  • GOALS
  • To explore how The Crucible reflects the culture
    of the Cold War.
  • To provide fresh material and perspectives for
    teaching the play.

3
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
  • FROM THE FORUM
  • Challenges, Issues, Questions
  • Play is popular with students.
  • Teachers attempt to place the paly in its Cold
    War context.
  • How can The Crucible be integrated into an
    interdisciplinary (history and English),
    team-taught class on the Cold War?

4
Florence Dore Assistant Professor of
English University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill National Humanities Center Fellow
2008-09 Twentieth-century American
literature Southern literature Feminist and
gender theory Not Knowing The American Middle
Class and Forms of Privacy in Southern Post-War
Fiction (Forthcoming) The Novel and the Obscene
Sexual Subjects in American Modernism (2005)

5
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
  • Framing Questions
  • How do you teach The Crucible?
  • A drama about events in seventeenth-century New
    England?
  • An allegory about mid-twentieth century politics
    in America?
  • Something else?

nationalhumanitiescenter.org
5
6
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
To what extent might we consider The Crucible as
a postmodern text? The term postwar refers to
a time framethe decades that immediately
followed 1945. The term postmodern refers to
the cultural forms that began to emerge in the
postwar years (think of rock music). The
literary scholar Fredric Jameson has argued that
literature of the postwar era reflects the
general tendency in these years towards
ahistoricity. What he means by that is that
everything written in the postmodern moment, even
if it appears to be about a prior moment in
history, cannot help but focus on the present.
As he puts it, postmodern texts expresses our
lived possibility of experiencing history in some
active way. This leads to a sense of
dislocation.
  • Postmodern subjects as deaf to actual history.
  • In literature, the past is contrued as an earlier
    version of the present.
  • Attempts to creat coherence in a moment of
    profound dislocation.

7
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
  • Discussion Questions
  • Is Millers portrayal of the seventeenth-century
    witch trials in The Crucible a symptom of a
    deafness, as Jameson calls it, to history?
  • Why did Arthur Miller choose to set a play
    about mid-twentieth-century politics in
    seventeenth-century New England?

8
For more information post45.org
9
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
Part One Class Part Two Gender Part Three
Race
10
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
Part One Class Does the role of property in
the play indicate something more about Arthur
Millers present than the American past?
11
From The Crucible, Act One
Parris The salary is sixty-six pound, Mr.
Proctor! I am not some preaching farmer with a
book under my arm I am a graduate of Harvard
College. Giles Aye, and well instructed in
arithmetic! Parris Mr. Corey, you will look far
for a man of my kind at sixty pound a year! I am
not used to this poverty I left a thrifty
business in the Barbados to serve the Lord. I do
not fathom it, why am I persecuted here? I
cannot offer one proposition but there be a
howling riot of argument. I have often wondered
if the Devil be in it somewhere I cannot
understand you people otherwise. Proctor Mr.
Parris, you are the first minister ever did
demand the deed to this house Parris Man!
Dont a minister deserve a house to live
in! Proctor To live in, yes. But to ask
ownership is like you shall own the meetinghouse
itself the last meeting I were at you spoke so
long on deeds and mortgages I thought it were an
auction. . . . Parris There is either
obedience or the church will burn like Hell is
burning! Proctor Can you speak one minute
without we land in Hell again? I am sick of
Hell! Parris It is not for you to say what is
good for you to hear! Proctor I can speak my
heart I think!
12
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
From Andrew Hoberek, The Twilight of the Middle
Class Post-World War II American Fiction and
White Collar Work, 2005 There is... A kind of
false pastoralism in accounts of the postwar
middle class as the refutation of Marxism....The
fate of the middle class in recent years ...seems
to confirm Marx and Engels assertion that
society as a whole is more and more splitting
into two great classes directly facing each
other those who own capital and those who must
sell their labor at the former groups terms.
From William H. Whyte, The Organization Man,
1956 Like the office with no division between
carpet and linoleum, suburbia demands perception.
How in the world, you wonder when you see Park
Forest, can anyone tell rankor, for that matter,
pull it? To the strangers eye the usual
criteria of status are almost entirely absent.
13
From The Crucible, Act Four
He would not answer aye or nay to his
indictment for if he denied the charge theyd
hang him surely, and auction out his property.
So he stand mute, and died Christian under the
law. And so his sons will have his farm. It is
the law, for he could not be condemned a wizard
without he answer the indictment, aye or nay
  • Discussion Question
  • What does witchcraft have to do with property in
    The Crucible?

14
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
Part Two Gender Is this a feminist play? How
do we read the ending in relation to gender?
Has Elizabeth herself become an individual, or
does her refusal to guide John indicate a
deference? What transformation do the women in
The Crucible undergo? How might we read the
living dead aura of various females in the play
in relation to a Stepford Wife mentality?
15
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
From Mother Takes a Holiday, 1952 Produced by
the Whirlpool Corporation How the all-electric
home emancipates women a drama of how the women
in the family manipulate their men to upgrade the
laundry facilities. http//www.archive.org/detai
ls/MotherTa1952
16
From Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 1963
The suburban housewifeshe was the dream image
of the young American woman and the envy, it was
said, of women all over the world. The American
housewifefreed by science and labor-saving
appliances from the drudgery, the dangers of
childbirth and the illnesses of her grandmother.
She was healthy, beautiful, educated, concerned
only about her husband, her children, her home.
She had found true feminine fulfillment In the
fifteen years after World War II, this mystique
of feminine fulfillment became the cherished and
self-perpetuating core of contemporary American
culture.
  • Discussion Questions
  • What do you notice about Mother Takes a Holiday?
  • How does Mother Takes a Holiday portray
    emancipation for women?
  • What do make of the fact that they are drinking
    Cokes? Of the fact that Whirlpool produced this?
  • In terms of Friedan, how does this movie
    exemplify The Feminine Mystique?
  • What do make of Carol, the stupid girl in
    the film? What is her function?
  • How might we read Elizabeth Proctor in this sense?

17
From The Crucible, Act Four
Danforth Goody Proctor you are not summoned
here for disputation. Be there no wifely
tenderness within you? He will die with the
sunrise. Your husband. Do you understand it?
(She only looks at him.) What say you? Will you
contend with him? (She is silent.) Are you
stone? I tell you true, woman, had I no other
proof of your unnatural life, your dry eyes now
would be sufficient evidence that you delivered
up your soul to Hell! A very ape would weep at
such calamity! Have the devil dried up any tear
of pity in you? (She is silent.) Take her out.
It profit nothing she should speak to
him. Elizabeth Let me speak with him,
Excellency. . . . Elizabeth It needs a cold
wife to prompt lechery.
18
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
Part Three Race How does race function in The
Crucible, and what do you make of the fact that
Brown v. Board of Education was passed a year
after The Crucible was published? In what
sense is Tituba a representative of Puritan
times, and to what extent does she function as a
sign of 1950s racial integration in the United
States? What does rock n roll have to do with
the Puritans in The Crucible? Watch
www.youtube.com/watch?vgsp4VCbVvn4featurerelate
d
19
From The Crucible, Act One
ABIGAIL She hates me uncle, she must, for I
would not be her slave. Its a bitter woman, a
lying, cold, sniveling woman, and I will not work
for such a woman! They want slaves, not such as
I. Let them send to Barbados for that. I will
not black my face for any of them! . .
. Reverend Parris I saw Tituba waving her arms
over the fire when I came on you.  Why was she
doing that?  And I heard screeching and gibberish
coming from her mouth She were swaying like a
dumb beast over the fire-- Abigail She always
sings her Barbados songs, and we dance. Ruth
Putnam she never waked this morning, but her
eyes open and she walks, and hears naught, and
cannot eat    
. . .  my Ruth, my onlyI
see her turning strange.  A secret child she has
become this year, and shrivels like a sucking
mouth were pullin on her life too.  
20
Witches and Communists The Crucible and the Cold
War
From Flannery OConnor, A Good Man Is Hard to
Find, 1953 The grandmother said she would tell
them a story if they would keep quiet. When she
told a story, she rolled her eyes and waved her
head and was very dramatic. She said once when
she was a maiden lady she had been courted by a
Mr. Edgar Atkins Teagarden from Jasper, Georgia.
She said he was a very good-looking man and a
gentleman and that he brought her a watermelon
every Saturday afternoon with his initials cut in
it, E. A. T. Well, one Saturday, she said, Mr.
Teagarden brought the watermelon and there was
nobody at home and he left it on the front porch
and returned in his buggy to Jasper, but she
never got the watermelon, she said, because a
nigger boy ate it when he saw the initials, E. A.
T. ! This story tickled John Wesley's funny bone
and he giggled and giggled but June Star didn't
think it was any good. She said she wouldn't
marry a man that just brought her a watermelon on
Saturday. The grandmother said she would have
done well to marry Mr. Teagarden because he was a
gentleman and had bought Coca-Cola stock when it
first came out and that he had died only a few
years ago, a very wealthy man. From The
Crucible, Act Four JOHN Because it is my
name! Because I cannot have another in my life!
Because I lie and sign myself to
lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the
feet of them that hang! How may I
live without my name? I have given you
my soul leave me my name! Listen
www.youtube.com/watch?vRDKC7IsTg8Efeaturerelate
d
21
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