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Introduction to The Crucible


Introduction to The Crucible The Salem Witch Trials The Crucible is based on real people and events which occurred in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to The Crucible

Introduction to The Crucible
The Salem Witch Trials
  • The Crucible is based on real people and events
    which occurred in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692.
  • Twenty people were killed nineteen were hung for
    convictions of witchcraft, while one man, Giles
    Corey, was pressed to death beneath the weight of
    stones for refusing to submit to trial.

Puritan (from to purify)..
  • The play occurs during the seventeenth and
    eighteenth century Salem Witch trials and
    involves the Puritan beliefs and religion.
  • Puritans came from Europe because they felt
    religion there was too decadent.
  • A very religious people. They felt that people
    could form compacts with the devil. The devil
    would do actions for them in this life and then
    when they died he would have their souls.

Puritan Beliefs
  • Predestination
  • The Bible is the literal word of God
  • Valued plainness in worship lifestyle
  • Considered hard work a religious duty
  • Church was the center of the community
  • Established a theocracy
  • Punishable offences adultery, fornication,
    drunkenness, theft, murder, breaches of the
    Sabbath, blasphemy, gambling, participating in
    theatrical performances.
  • The unknown or unfamiliar was suspect

However, there is a deeper meaning to Arthur
Millers tale.
  • Allegory
  • A story in which people, things, and happenings
    have another meaning, as in fable or parable.
    Many critics have referred to The Crucible as a
    political allegory.
  • Miller was writing during a time of fear.

  • Period in the 1950s
  • Named for Senator Joseph McCarthy, from the state
    of Wisconsin.
  • On February 12, 1950, he delivered a speech in
    Wheeling, West Virginia which triggered a four
    year hunt for alleged communists in government.
    Claimed he had a list of 250 names of communists
    who had infiltrated USA.
  • Created HUAC (House Un-American Activities

  • (HUAC) investigated Communist involvement in
    the film industry, education, unions and the
    government. Witnesses were supposed to prove
    their loyalty by naming former Communists they
    had known. If they didnt they could face a jail
    sentence and be blacklisted so they couldnt
    get a job.
  • Evidence was not needed to name names

  • The HUAC summoned 2,375 men and women, which was
    enough to cost them their jobs. 400 Americans
    went to jail not having a fair trial what
    lawyers would risk his career defending suspected
    communists? McCarthy bullied, threatened and
    abused witnesses while he accused them of
    Communist sympathies.

The tide eventually turns.
  • Soon, however, public opinion turned against
  • With the hearings televised, McCarthy came across
    as a vicious bully and a liar. (See Good Night
    and Good Luck!) By 1954, he was forced out of
    public life and died three years later, an

The Effects..
  • 9,500 civil servants were dismissed and 15,000
    resigned 600 teachers lost their jobs and many
    fine actors and scriptwriters were unable to work
    again. Charlie Chaplin, the biggest Hollywood
    movie star of the pre-war years (and also a
    Communist) left America in disgust.

Arthur Miller, the playwright (b. 1915, d.
  • Common theme in his plays portrays the tragedy
    of the common man who loses his integrity due to
    social and economic pressures.
  • Was called to testify before HUAC and refused to
    name names.
  • Convicted of contempt of court appealed and won

  • I decided to write "The Crucible" not only as
    a document on historical events but as a warning
    to everybody that such a "witchhunt"
    persecuting people for whatever - can happen
    again at any time at any place, because there is
    evil in everybody that can be activated or called
    to life by calculated political manipulation at
    any time anywhere in the world. Arthur Miller

Ideas We Will Explore as We Read the Play
  • What motivates us?
  • What makes someone a leader or a follower?
  • Intolerance
  • Abuse of power
  • Respect and reputation

Terms to know
A Crucible
  • noun
  • Etymology Middle English corusible, from
    Medieval Latin crucibulum earthen pot for melting
  • Date 15th century
  • 1 a vessel of a very refractory material (as
    porcelain) used for melting and calcining a
    substance that requires a high degree of heat
  • 2 a severe test
  • 3 a place or situation in which concentrated
    forces interact to cause or influence change or

  • noun
  • Etymology
  • Greek theokratia, from the- -kratia -cracy
  • Date 1622
  • 1 government of a state by immediate divine
    guidance or by officials who are regarded as
    divinely guided
  • 2 a state governed by a theocracy

Spectral Evidence
  • Spectral adjective
  • Date 1769
  • 1 of, relating to, or suggesting a specter

  • noun
  • Date 14th century
  • 1 the act or practice of persecuting especially
    those who differ in origin, religion, or social
  • 2 the condition of being persecuted, harassed,
    or annoyed

Mass Hysteria
  • a condition in which a large group of people
    exhibit the same state of violent mental
  • Examples McMartin Preschool Trials

Guilt by Association
  • the attribution of guilt (without proof) to
    individuals because the people they associate
    with are guilty

Witch Hunt
  • An investigation carried out ostensibly to
    uncover subversive activities but actually used
    to harass and undermine those with differing