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The play’s title, The Crucible, means a severe trial or test. More than one character...

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awni5diko | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 27, 2009 at 9:39 AM via web

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The play’s title, The Crucible, means a severe trial or test. More than one character was being tested during the course of the Salem witch trials.

Trace the crucible of one character. How was the character when the play began? What test or tests (honesty, love, strength, objectivity, belief) did the character undergo – what was the character tested for? Did the character pass or fail? Provide plenty of support such as quotes, examples, and evidence from The Crucible to support your interpretation of this character throughout the play.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 27, 2009 at 9:58 AM (Answer #1)

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If I were writing this, I'd look at John Proctor.  I'd look at how he was a bit unsure of himself -- his goodness and morality -- at the start of the play.

He undergoes tests -- his wife's somewhat cold attitude early on, his need to defend her from the accusations, and then his own struggle to decide whether he is going to live or die.  I think he's being tested on his integrity and belief in himself.

I'd say he passes.  At the end of the play, he is able to feel good enough about himself, feel he's important enough, to think that his honor and good name are worth dying for.

That's what I'd write about.  Good luck...

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 27, 2009 at 11:10 AM (Answer #2)

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The test of John Proctor is a powerful one.  I think his wife, Elizabeth, also endures a series of challenges.  There is the test of forgiveness and understanding she must have knowing her husband engaged in an affair with Abigail.  At the same time, she must also face the severe test of being of independent mind and a woman of the time period, where submissiveness was an almost understood condition.  Her penultimate test comes when she is poised between agonizing ends.  On one end, she wishes for her husband to be alive and begs him to sign the false confession.  At the same time, she understands that he has to stand for his beliefs and by signing the confession his name ("the only thing I have left") and his reputation, his very word and identity, cannot be compromised through lies and deceit.  Her crucible is being able to stand by her husband, knowing that death and abandonment are the possibilities.  I would search for quotes that show her in this agonizing position, such as moments where she wishes John to sign the confession and then lines that indicate her understanding of what her husband is striving to achieve.  I believe that she succeeds in understanding that loyalty and honoring one's love must be valued above all else.

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