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Introduction to The Crucible


Historical witchhunts : The Holocaust, Rawanda, Sudan, the 9/11 terrorist Watchlist * * Title: Witch Hunts Author: Lori MacDonald Last modified by: SHS – 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
  • Salem, Massachusetts, 1692.
  • Twenty people killed
  • Religious beliefs played a huge role

Puritan (from to purify)..
  • 17th century Puritan beliefs and religion
  • New England (Salem, Massachusetts)
  • Came from Europe
  • very religious
  • believed in the devil and feared his power

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

McCarthyism Continued
  • (HUAC) investigated Communist involvement in
    the film industry, education, unions and the
  • Witnesses were supposed to prove their loyalty by
    naming former Communists/communists they had
  • faced a jail sentence and 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 Effects..
  • 9,500 civil servants were dismissed and 15,000
  • 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

The tide eventually turns.
  • Eventually public opinion turned against McCarthy
  • Televised hearings
  • McCarthy a vicious bully and a liar.
  • he was forced out of public life and died three
    years later, an alcoholic.

Arthur Miller, the playwright 1915 - 2005
  • Common theme in his plays the tragedy of the
    common man who loses his integrity due to social
    and economic pressures.
  • He was called to testify before HUAC and refused
    to name names.
  • Convicted of contempt of court appealed and won

  • In response to why he wrote The Crucible, he
    said 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.

As We Read the Play we will explore what
motivates us as human beings by examining
  • The influence and power of fear
  • Choices and their consequences
  • The desire and need for power and control
  • The desire for respect and favor from others
  • Deception

Useful Terms to Know
A Crucible
  • Has three possible meanings
  • 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
  • Which do you think most likely applies based on
    what we have learned today?

  • a form of government in which a country is ruled
    by religious leaders.
  • - Said leaders are believed to be receiving
    divine guidance from God and are therefore acting
    on Gods behalf

Spectral Evidence
  • Spectral evidence is a form of evidence based
    upon dreams and visions. Evidence that could be
    used in a court of law in Salem during the
    seventeenth century.
  • Spectral evidence was testimony that the accused
    witch's spirit (i.e. spectre) appeared to the
    witness in a dream or vision (for example, a
    black cat or wolf).
  • The dream or vision was admitted as evidence.
    Thus, witnesses (who were often the accusers)
    would testify that various people were
    responsible for crimes against a person even
    though they were physically elsewhere at the

  • the act or practice of harassing especially
    those who differ in origin, religion, or social

Mass Hysteria
  • a condition in which a large group of people
    exhibit the same state of violent mental
    agitation for no apparent reason

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
  • Historical witchhuntsThe Holocaust, Rawanda,
    Sudan, the 9/11 terrorist Watchlist