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The Crucible

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The Crucible Arthur Miller Arthur Miller Arthur Miller was an American playwright who was born in 1915. His Death of a Salesman won the Pulitzer prize in 1949. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Crucible


1
The Crucible
  • Arthur Miller

2
Arthur Miller
  •  Arthur Miller was an American playwright who was
    born in 1915.  His Death of a Salesman won the
    Pulitzer prize in 1949.  Miller wrote The
    Crucible in 1953 during the McCarthy period when
    Americans were accusing each other of
    Pro-Communist beliefs.  Many of Millers friends
    were being attacked as communists and in 1956,
    Miller himself was brought before the House of
    Un-American Activities Committee where he was
    found guilty of beliefs in communism.  The
    verdict was reversed in 1957 in an appeals
    court.   

3
Plot
  • The Crucible is set against the backdrop of the
    mad witch hunts of the Salem witch trials in the
    late 17th century.  It is about a town, after
    accusations from a few girls, which begins a mad
    hunt for witches that did not exist.  Many
    townspeople were hanged on charges of
    witchcraft.  Miller brings out the absurdity of
    the incident with the theme of truth and
    righteousness.  The theme is conveyed through the
    struggles of Millers main character, John
    Proctor.

4
Plot (cont.)
  • There is a feud between the Putnam and the Nurse
    families. They are both wealthy land owners and
    the Nurses are very respected in town. These
    families each supported a different minister. The
    Nurses supported Reverend Parris.
  • The Proctors preferred to worship in their own
    house. They felt that the church under Reverend
    Parris was becoming too materialistic and drifted
    away from the purpose of the church. Rebecca
    Nurse was the midwife to the Putnams, she aided
    the delivery of the babies. Mrs Putnam had eight
    children, seven of which died, and the Putnams
    felt that Mrs Nurse had put a curse on the
    children when they died.

5
Background Information
  • The play occurs during the seventeenth and
    eighteenth century Salem Witch trials and
    involves the Puritan beliefs and religion. They
    were very religious. They felt that people could
    form pacts with the devil. The devil would do
    actions for them in this life and then when they
    died he would have their souls. They believed in
    witches and felt that they could cast spells on
    people. The Puritans believed that there were
    certain signs of a witch.

6
Characters
  • Each character in the play has his own distinct
    quality.  Most characters are distinctly good or
    evil, though few characters are really
    developed.  The reader is only able to see one
    side of each character. 

7
Setting
  •  The play takes place in Salem, Massachusetts
    during the 17 century.  Since this play is based
    on a true story, the setting is real. The events
    within this play occur in a Puritan society where
    the community is very superstitious and gullible.
    Due to these facts, the people are very fearful
    of witches. People in the story were too
    supernatural to believe the girls in the play. 

8
Style
  •  Millers style is very simple.  He uses simple
    sentences and words which are easy to
    understand.  He brings out the evil quality of
    Abigail and the other girls as well as the
    gullibility of the judges.  While using a simple
    style, Miller maintains the suspense in the
    plot.  The dialogues of his characters are
    created to sound like actual speech. 

9
Theme
  • The theme of the play is rising over adversity
    and standing for truth. Through Proctors
    struggle, Miller displays the struggles within
    each of our own hearts.  Many times we witness
    some sort of wrong-doing to another person and
    choose to not get involved.  However, some people
    fight to do what is right, just like John Proctor
    in the story. Would you quit after only saving
    someone close to you, like Proctor could have
    done, or would you go for the entire community as
    Proctor did?

10
Conclusion
  • The story reminds its readers of an ugly blemish
    on human history.  It reminds us that man is not
    perfect, and that we can make mistakes.  However,
    even with these mistakes, we can overcome them by
    making what is wrong right.  The sufferings
    become to the sufferer like a crucible.

11
The Salem Witch Trials
  • The people of Salem who believed in witches
    were no different from their counterparts in
    England and the rest of Europe. Belief in the
    existence of witches had been prevalent
    throughout the earlier centuries and continued
    into the 17th century. Salem was simply a
    microcosm of the larger macrocosm.

12
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13
McCarthy Hearings
  • During the McCarthy
    hearings (1950s) many innocent people were
    accused of being traitors (communists, mainly) to
    our country and, while they were not physically
    harmed, their professional and personal lives
    were ruined by this adverse publicity, which was
    often untrue. During this period also (as in
    Salem) many supposed good people participated
    in the accusations against others because they
    were afraid that if they refused to do so their
    own lives would be ruined. Miller is thus drawing
    a parallel between two periods of hysteria in our
    country, though far apart in time, that are
    dangerously close in ideology. (Guidon study
    materials)

14
Historical Applications
  • The McCarthy trials were in full force when
    Miller wrote this story, so this story closely
    relates to these trials. During the 1950's,
    Senator Joseph McCarthy accused many American
    leaders of being communists. This led to many
    unfounded accusations of people being communist
    party members. Some people believed McCarthy
    because they were fearful of communism and he
    played on those fears. McCarthy was, in effect,
    conducting "witch hunts". If any person opposed
    the Salem Witch trials, he or she was accused of
    being a witch. If any person opposed the McCarthy
    investigations, he or she was accused of being a
    communist.
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