Salem and Puritanism
The government of Salem in 1692 was a Puritan theocracy. In other words, the town was under the unbending authority of the church. The leaders of the church, and especially the minister of the church, were very powerful figures, comparable to our elected officials. A person who was not a member in good standing of the church was not allowed to live in the community. All citizens were expected to conform to the teachings of the church at all times and to know its catechism, which contained the written statements of the church’s beliefs.
Puritan theology was largely based on the teachings of John Calvin. Calvin was one of a group of theologians who protested against the Roman Catholic church’s departure from the Bible as the ultimate authority. Based on their reading of Saint Paul in the New Testament, they particularly disagreed with the Roman Catholic emphasis on earning your salvation through good deeds on earth. These protesters, or Protestants, believed that salvation could not be earned. The only way to get to heaven was to be chosen by God and to have faith that He would save you from eternal damnation. Some people were predestined, or chosen to be saved, while others were not. While good works would not earn your salvation if you had not been chosen, believers desired to do good works on earth and thus follow the example set by Jesus Christ. Good works were visible signs of your commitment to God.
At the time of the
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Form and Content (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series, Supplement)
The Crucible is based on actual persons and events. While some dialogue and characterizations are based on legal records of the Salem witch trials, other details crucial to the play are inventions or suppositions by the author. The published version of The Crucible includes occasional prose discussions of the characters and themes that are not part of the play in performance. The play as published begins with several pages describing the Puritan environment in which the events take place. Arthur Miller explains that the witch trials occurred because of a theocratic government that repressed individual freedom.
The play opens in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, where his daughter Betty is suffering from a mysterious ailment. Parris had discovered Betty and his niece Abigail Williams dancing naked in the forest and fears that Betty’s ailment is supernatural in origin. Other Salemites—including Ann Putnam, who has lost several children—believe that witchcraft has been responsible for local misfortunes. The girls have, in fact, been playing at witchcraft, a crime that carries a penalty of death. In order to protect themselves from punishment, the girls confess that they were under the spell of other witches within the community, and they provide Parris with the names of those witches. Parris is a vain man who seeks to be the central power within the community. His sermons have more often concerned his desires for increased pay and...
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Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Salem. Small Massachusetts town on the Atlantic coast, about twenty miles northeast of Boston. A small community sandwiched between the ocean and the wilderness, Salem felt itself surrounded by danger, a danger that could be combated only by hard work, perseverance, and strict religious observance. The Native Americans living in the area presented a threat, but the devil, who lurked in the nearby wilderness, was a far greater threat, tempting villagers to worship him. The theocracy that governed Salem was designed to prevent this from occurring; thus any departure from orthodoxy was condemned, and any opposition was summarily crushed.
Parris’s house. Home of the Reverend Parris in Salem. It is symbolically appropriate that the home of Parris, the congregation’s minister, is the site of the first outbreak of witchcraft hysteria. Act 1 occurs in an upstairs bedroom of the Parris house. The room contains only “a narrow window,” a metaphor for the narrowness of Puritan beliefs, through which not much light is allowed to shine. The somber room “gives off an air of clean spareness,” and the “raw and unmellowed” nature of the wood coincides with the nature of Puritan life.
Proctor home. Farmhouse five miles from Salem. Act 2 takes place in John and Elizabeth Proctor’s home. The room where the act is set seems cold; although it is spring,...
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The Play (Masterplots II: Drama)
The Crucible begins at daybreak in the house of the Reverend Samuel Parris, who is praying at the bed of his motionless daughter, Betty. Her apparently incurable illness sets in motion the action of the play, which centers on the historic Salem witch trials. In quick succession, key characters enter; the first is slave Tituba, on whose exit follows Parris’ ward, the seventeen-year-old Abigail Williams. Interrogating her sparks off Parris’ fear that “unnatural things” may be going on, occult practices that could wreck his career; he has already been shocked to discover the “sinful” dance of Tituba and the girls in the forest.
Ann and Thomas Putnam enter, two characters who have strong motivations for crying “witch”: Ann has no living children and envies happier mothers, while land-rich Thomas stands to gain still more if some of his neighbors are indicted. One neighbor is John Proctor, who appears while the adults are offstage praying, and after Abigail and her girlfriends have discussed what to reveal about Tituba, who indeed performed voodoo rites. Abigail even drank chicken blood to cast a deadly spell over Proctor’s wife Elizabeth, so that she could marry Proctor, with whom she had an affair before his wife cast her out.
When her girlfriends leave, Abigail attempts to seduce Proctor, who refuses and threatens her with the whip. As the adults come back, new characters appear, such as wily old Giles Corey, a friend...
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Dramatic Devices (Masterplots II: Drama)
The Crucible is a drama in the tradition of American realism, and Arthur Miller strives for historic verisimilitude both through his deliberate use of archaic language in the dialogue and by prescribing settings with a distinctly realistic look. Proctor’s house has the “low, dark, and rather long living room of the time.” Samuel Parris’ house, with its “air of clean spareness,” where “the roof rafters are exposed, and the wood colors are raw and unmellowed,” accords with the audience’s preconception of a Puritan minister’s home. Clearly, Miller is also re-creating the myth of Puritan drabness here: His theatrical setting eschews the bright blues and reds with which the Puritans actually decorated their homes.
The lighting of the opening moments of the play has its obvious diegetic source in “the morning sunlight” that streams through the leaded panes of a narrow window at the left. Against this appropriate backdrop, the events of the previous night are brought to light. Characters are neatly grouped into units by the possibility of having some go “downstairs,” into the meeting room offstage. Thus, there is private space created for the girls and, later, for a key scene between Proctor and Abigail. To reinforce the audience’s sense of a coming eclipse of Proctor’s fortunes, and to create an outer manifestation of the inner darkness of the characters and the city of Salem, his house is visited in the evening, after a...
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Miller warns in the preface to The Crucible that "this play is not history," but it is certainly dependent on historical events for its story. It will be necessary in this section to deal with two periods of history: first, the time of the Salem witch trials; second, the time of McCarthyism in the 1950s when Miller was writing.
Marion Starkey's 1949 book, The Witch Trials in Massachusetts first generated interest in the events that took place in Salem, Massachusetts, in the seventeenth century. Those accused of witchcraft were hounded by representatives of their community (and the larger pressure of majority opinion) until they admitted their involvement, naming others involved in suspicious practices—although the majority of those accused and named were guilty of nothing more than behavior that did not conform to the societal norms of the time.
Despite what might be obvious to contemporary readers as free expression or eccentricity, these people were nevertheless prosecuted in Salem. Spearheaded by the crusade of the real-life Reverend Parris, twenty people were killed based on the suspicion that they had involvement with witchcraft. A good number of these people were killed for refusing to cooperate with the proceedings, having never confessed to any crimes. The Salem Witch Trials stand as an example of religious hysteria and mob mentality in American history.
Miller carefully uses this historical information...
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The Meaning in Miller's Title
The title The Crucible hints at paradoxical concerns which run throughout the play. On the one hand, a crucible, as a melting pot in which metals are heated to separate out the base metals from the valuable ones, could represent the spiritual improvement which can happen to human beings as a result of trials and hardship. On the other hand, a crucible is also a witches' cauldron in which ingredients are brewed together to be used in black magic. In this sense, Miller might be suggesting that good can even come out of attempted evil, as well as the normal and healthy challenges of Christian life. In this sense, the events in Salem are seen as a necessary evil which roots out evil at the very heart of the community and which brings about a kind of cleansing; the events in Salem had to occur so that they would not be repeated in subsequent times.
To understand how The Crucible might be performed, and to appreciate it as a text as well as a script, it is helpful to examine Miller's prose inserts, which explain the action which is taking place in the dialogue. In his directions, Miller leaves very little room for interpretation; in almost didactic terms, he spells out the background to the witch trials and fleshes out characters, focusing particularly on their motives and the psychological states that lead them to be swept along by the tragedy. For example,...
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Act I, Scene 1 Questions and Answers
1. What do we learn in the opening narrative that is important to the events that follow?
2. What happened in the woods the night before Act One -begins?
3. How did the events come to light, and what was the effect on Betty and Ruth?
4. Why is the town so stirred up by these events?
5. What is Reverend Parris’ first reaction to the crisis?
6. What reason does Ann Putnam have to be resentful?
7. What reason does Thomas Putnam have to be resentful?
8. Why do the girls argue about whether or not to tell the truth?
9. How does Abigail eventually get her way?
10. What is a crucible?
1. We learn that Parris thinks everyone is out to get him and that he has a need to be in control. We also learn that the citizens of Salem mind each other’s business and are unforgiving.
2. Several teenage girls of Salem were in the woods dancing, some of them naked. Tituba was trying to contact the dead, and Abigail was trying to put a curse on Elizabeth Proctor.
3. The girls were caught by Reverend Parris, and the shock caused Betty and Ruth to fall ill.
4. The town is stirred up because the girls cannot be healed, and they suspect witchcraft.
5. Parris’ first reaction is to save his own name and reputation.
6. Ann Putnam suspects someone...
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Act I, Scene 2 Questions and Answers
1. Why was Abigail dismissed from her job at the Proctor’s house?
2. What does Abby tell Proctor about the events in the woods?
3. How have Proctor’s feelings toward Abby changed?
4. When does Betty cry out?
5. How is this cry interpreted?
6. How is Betty finally calmed?
7. How does Rebecca explain the events in the woods?
8. Why would anyone resent the Nurses?
9. Why does Proctor dislike Parris?
10. Why does Parris dislike Proctor?
1. Abigail was dismissed from her job when Elizabeth discovered her affair with John.
2. Abby tells Proctor that they were merely dancing and that there was no witchcraft involved.
3. Proctor has put the affair behind him and no longer welcomes Abby’s advances.
4. Betty cries out when she hears the name of the Lord sung downstairs.
5. The cry is interpreted as another sign of witchcraft. If Betty is possessed by a demonic spirit, she cannot bear to hear the name of the Lord.
6. Rebecca Nurse seems to calm Betty merely by her presence.
7. Rebecca feels the events in the woods were merely expressions of adolescent foolishness.
8. The Nurses have been involved in a land war with their neighbors and were among those who kept Putnam’s candidate for minister out of...
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Act I, Scene 3 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Hale invited to Salem from Boston?
2. Has Hale ever found a witch?
3. What is significant about the timing of Hale’s entrance?
4. What do we learn about Rebecca Nurse from Hale?
5. What does Giles mention to Hale about Proctor?
6. What does Giles mention about his wife?
7. What are Rebecca and John’s roles in the proceedings?
8. What does Abigail do when questioned?
9. How is Tituba treated when she finally concocts a conversation with the devil and names a Salem woman as a witch?
10. What does Abby do when she sees this reaction?
1. Hale is a noted authority on witchcraft.
2. Hale once thought he had found a witch, but thorough investigation revealed that there was a natural explanation for the questionable behavior.
3. Hale enters immediately after the conversation that reveals the conflicts among the residents of Salem.
4. We learn that Rebecca’s good reputation is widely known.
5. Giles tells Hale that Proctor does not believe in witches.
6. Giles tells Hale that his wife reads books and that when she is reading them, he cannot pray.
7. Both Rebecca and John refuse to be involved in the witch-hunt.
8. Abigail pins the blame on Tituba.
9. Tituba is greatly encouraged...
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Act II, Scene 1 Questions and Answers
1. What is the significance of John’s re-seasoning the soup?
2. What is the relationship between John and Elizabeth like?
3. What new position does Mary Warren now hold?
4. Who is in charge of this court?
5. What action has the court taken?
6. What will happen if the accused do not confess?
7. How has Mary’s personality changed since her involvement in the court?
8. What issue does Elizabeth continue to hound her husband about?
9. What does Elizabeth’s lack of mercy and understanding foreshadow?
10. Why does John hesitate to go to the court and reveal Abigail’s fraud?
1. The unseasoned soup is a symbol of the Proctors’ flavorless marriage.
2. The relationship between John and Elizabeth is tense and strained.
3. Mary is now an official in the newly formed court.
4. The court consists of four judges sent from Boston.
5. The court has accused 14 Salemites of witchcraft.
6. If the accused do not confess, they will be hanged.
7. Mary used to be timid and shy, but is now openly defiant of her employer.
8. Elizabeth cannot forgive John’s indiscretion with Abigail.
9. Elizabeth’s behavior towards John foreshadows the later actions of the court.
10. John hesitates...
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Act II, Scene 2 Questions and Answers
1. What does Mary Warren give Elizabeth?
2. What is Elizabeth’s reaction to the gift?
3. How many people have now been arrested?
4. What will happen to those who do not confess?
5. Who has confessed?
6. What does this mean for the others?
7. What would spare Sarah Good from hanging?
8. What shocking news does Mary offer regarding Elizabeth?
9. What cause does Elizabeth immediately suspect?
10. Now that Elizabeth is accused, does John go quickly to the court to clear her name?
1. Mary gives Elizabeth a poppet, or doll, that she had sewn that day in court.
2. Elizabeth is surprised. A doll is an odd gift to give a grown woman.
3. A total of 39 people have now been arrested.
4. Those who do not confess will be hanged.
5. Sarah Good has confessed.
6. Now that one person has confessed, the charges against the others are more believable.
7. Sarah is pregnant, and the court will spare her unborn child.
8. Mary reveals that Elizabeth has been accused of witchcraft.
9. Elizabeth suspects the accusation was an attempt by Abigail to eventually marry John.
10. Even though Elizabeth has been accused, John hesitates to go to the court. He agrees to go only after being coerced by his...
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Act II, Scene 3 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Hale appear at the Proctor house?
2. Why would John’s Christian character be in question?
3. What reason does John first give for not going to church regularly?
4. What reason does John finally admit to for his behavior?
5. Why is John’s not going to church significant to the play?
6. What does Hale request the Proctors do to show their faith?
7. Are the Proctors successful in fulfilling this request?
8. Why is this particular commandment significant?
9. What news briefly shakes Hale’s belief in the court system?
10. What is his ultimate conclusion about the system at the end of this scene?
1. Hale travels to the Proctor house to question them on their Christian character.
2. John’s faith is in question because he does not attend church regularly and has not had his third son baptized.
3. John explains that Elizabeth has been sick and he has stayed home to care for her.
4. John admits his animosity toward Reverend Parris.
5. It shows his failure to conform to the rules of the society and to participate in the community.
6. The Proctors are asked to repeat the commandments.
7. John can name nine commandments but forgets the commandment against adultery.
8. John’s adultery with...
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Act II, Scene 4 Questions and Answers
1. What orders do Cheever and Herrick have at the Proctor house?
2. What has happened to Abigail?
3. Why is this related to the poppet?
4. Did Elizabeth keep poppets in her house?
5. What is found in the poppet?
6. How did the needle get there?
7. Do the authorities believe Mary’s admission?
8. What does John do with the warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest?
9. What does Proctor believe is motivating the court at this point?
10. What does Mary warn will happen if Proctor attempts to interfere with the court?
1. Cheever and Herrick are to search the Proctor’s house for poppets and to arrest Elizabeth.
2. Abigail’s belly has been pierced deeply with a long needle.
3. The poppet was found with a needle sticking out of its belly. It was commonly believed that dolls were kept by witches and manipulated in order to torture people.
4. Elizabeth never had poppets in the house until that day, when Mary gave her one.
5. A long needle is found in the poppet in the same place Abigail had been stabbed.
6. Mary Warren admits that she may have left it there when she made it.
7. The authorities pay no attention to Mary’s admission.
8. John tears up the warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest.
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Act III, Scene 1 Questions and Answers
1. What is the significance of lighting described in the stage directions?
2. Who is being charged as Act Three begins?
3. What possible motive does Giles Corey offer for the accusations against his wife and others?
4. How are these charges received?
5. Why does Giles feel guilty?
6. What do Proctor and Mary Warren bring with them as -evidence?
7. How does Judge Danforth measure his worth?
8. What does Parris do when Proctor attempts to make his case?
9. What is happening to Hale at this point?
10. How is Mary’s statement that the accusations are mere pretense received?
1. The shafts of light entering the room are symbolic of goodness.
2. Martha Corey is being charged as the act begins.
3. Giles Corey accuses Thomas Putnam of attempting to acquire more land.
4. Giles Corey is thrown out of the courtroom and threatened with arrest for contempt.
5. Giles believes he has jeopardized his wife by mentioning that she reads books.
6. They bring a deposition signed by Mary that the trials are a fraud.
7. Judge Danforth measures his worth by the number of people he has jailed and sentenced to hang.
8. Parris attempts to call his Christian character into question.
9. Hale has started to believe...
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Act III, Scene 2 Questions and Answers
1. What news does Danforth give John Proctor about his wife?
2. Why did the court not believe this assertion at first?
3. What does Proctor tell Danforth about his doubts?
4. What offer is made to Proctor by Danforth?
5. What happens to the people who signed the deposition upholding the three women?
6. What does Giles Corey charge in his deposition againstThomas Putnam?
7. How does Putnam answer, and who is believed?
8. What does Mary Warren’s deposition claim?
9. What does Hale suggest after the deposition is read?
10. Why does Danforth not allow Proctor to obtain a lawyer?
1. Proctor is told that his wife claims she is pregnant.
2. The court first assumed that Elizabeth was lying about pregnancy to avoid hanging.
3. Proctor tells Danforth that Elizabeth is incapable of telling a lie.
4. Danforth offers to Elizabeth one year to bear her child, hoping that this will allow him to drop his charges against the court.
5. All 91 signers are ordered arrested for questioning.
6. Corey charges Putnam with attempting to kill his neighbors in order to buy their land.
7. Putnam claims the accusation is a lie, and since the charge cannot be proved, Putnam is believed.
8. Mary’s deposition claims she never...
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Act III, Scene 3 Questions and Answers
1. What does Abigail do when confronted with Mary’s accusation of pretense?
2. What behavior of Abby’s does Proctor bring to the judges’ attention?
3. Why does he choose to reveal these things?
4. What is Reverend Parris’ reaction to these charges against his niece?
5. How is Mary asked to prove that the girls were lying?
6. How does Abigail respond to Mary’s assertions that the girls were all lying?
7. What does Proctor finally call Abigail?
8. Who is brought in to back up this accusation, and what does she do?
9. How does Mary finally respond to Abby’s behavior?
10. What happens to Proctor at the end of the act?
1. Abby denies the proceedings are mere pretense.
2. Abby has laughed at prayer and danced naked in the woods.
3. Proctor attempts to show flaws in Abby’s Christian character that might prove that she is lying.
4. Parris reacts to the charges against Abby as if they were personal insults against himself.
5. Mary is asked to fake fainting to show how the girls were faking in the court.
6. Abigail turns against Mary, claiming that Mary has sent her spirit out to afflict her.
7. In desperation, Proctor calls Abigail a whore, confessing his lechery.
8. Elizabeth is brought in to...
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Act IV, Scene 1 Questions and Answers
1. What are Tituba and Sarah Good discussing as the act opens?
2. How does Tituba describe the devil in Barbados?
3. What has happened that has made Parris so anxious?
4. What happened in Andover?
5. Why is Parris afraid to hang John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse the next morning?
6. Why is Parris more frightened to hang Proctor and Nurse than anyone else?
7. Why does Parris request a postponement of the hangings?
8. What does Hale request instead of postponement?
9. Why does Danforth refuse Hale’s request?
10. What has Hale been advising those condemned to do?
1. The two women are speaking of the devil coming to take them back to Barbados.
2. Tituba says the devil is a “pleasureman” in Barbados, a joyful figure.
3. Abigail and Mercy Lewis have run off with all of the minister’s money.
4. A court examining witches in Andover was overturned and rejected by the town.
5. Parris fears a rebellion in Salem similar to the one in Andover.
6. Proctor and Nurse are well respected in Salem and have far better reputations than any of those previously put to death.
7. Parris hopes that more of those condemned can be brought to confess and save their lives.
8. Because none of the prisoners can be brought to...
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Act IV, Scene 2 Questions and Answers
1. What does Hale plead with Elizabeth to do?
2. Why does Hale believe a lie would not be a sin in this case?
3. Why is Hale so adamant in his attempts to convince Elizabeth?
4. Have any of the other prisoners confessed?
5. What reason does John give for not confessing?
6. What further reason keeps John from confessing?
7. What has John decided to do before he sees Elizabeth?
8. What does Elizabeth advise him to do?
9. How has Elizabeth changed?
10. What reason does John have for not telling the truth and going to his death?
1. Hale pleads with Elizabeth to convince John to lie.
2. Hale believes that no principle can justify the taking of a life.
3. Hale feels he will be responsible for John’s death.
4. Elizabeth tells John that a hundred or more people have confessed and gone free.
5. John states that he does not want to give a lie to dogs.
6. To confess is to go along with the majority and give up his individual identity.
7. John has decided to confess when he meets with Elizabeth.
8. Elizabeth will not advise him either way. She knows he must decide for himself.
9. Elizabeth has realized that she, too, is at fault and that she cannot be John’s judge.
10. John feels...
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Act IV, Scene 3 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Rebecca Nurse brought in to witness Proctor’s confession?
2. Why does Proctor refuse to name the names of other witches?
3. Why does Proctor refuse to give Danforth the paper with his signature on it?
4. What is the climax of the play?
5. What does Proctor do with the signed confession?
6. How has Proctor earned his death?
7. How does Elizabeth react to his choice of death?
8. When does Proctor claim his good name?
9. What reaction does Rebecca Nurse have to John Proctor’s confession?
10. Does Rebecca Nurse confess?
1. It is hoped that Proctor’s confession will lead Rebecca to confess as well.
2. While Proctor has made his own decision, he refuses to ruin anyone else’s good name.
3. He does not want it used to force others to confess or be seen as an example of submission.
4. The climax of the play is Proctor’s assertion that his confession was a lie.
5. Proctor tears and crumples the signed confession in front of the judges.
6. Proctor has earned his death by asserting his individuality against the authority of the court.
7. Elizabeth is proud that John has found his goodness and refuses to dissuade him.
8. Proctor finds his good name when he asserts his individuality and tears...
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Compare and Contrast
- 1600s: Puritan settlers in New England, familiar with persecution, create tightly-knit communities where church and state are closely linked in the running of the society. In The Crucible Miller described the state which they created as "a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it up to destruction by material or ideological enemies."
1953: Joseph Stalin ruler of the Soviet Union since 1928, dies at the age of 73. Hostilities with the West continue and in the U.S. attempts are made through the House Committee on Un-American Activities to root out communists in America.
Today: The end of the Cold War has seen the breakdown of a communist influence in Eastern Europe as well as the fragmentation of the Soviet Union into smaller independent states. Barriers between Russia and the U.S. have also largely disappeared and, although not allies, the two countries negotiate on matters such as world peace and world trade.
- 1600s: Puritans in the seventeenth century believe in three different kinds of witchcraft: "white magic" which involves the use of charms and spells to bring good luck;"black magic'' which...
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Topics for Further Study
- What is your perception of the girls' allegations in the play? Do they really believe in witchcraft or are they fabricating the events?
- Is John Proctor a tragic figure? Compare his fate to that of such tragic literary figures as King Oedipus in Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and the title character in William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
- Examine the historical facts regarding the Salem Witch Trials and Joseph McCarthy's hearings. In what ways does Miller employ these facts in the service of his drama. How do the two historical events compare to each other?
- What purpose do Miller's authorial prose inserts in the text serve?
- Miller said that "McCarthyism may have been the historical occasion of the play, not its theme." What other political and social events do you perceive the play addressing?
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- The first film version of The Crucible was made in France in 1957. It stars Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Mylene Demongeot, and Jean Debucourt. The film was directed by Raymond Rouleau and written by Jean-Paul Sartre.
- No further film adaptations were made until 1996, when Miller's own screenplay of his drama was put into production by Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, the film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Proctor, Winona Ryder as Abigail, and Joan Allen as Goody Proctor. In his introduction to the Penguin edition of the screenplay, Miller pointed to the advantages of film:"There was the possibility of showing the wild beauty of the newly cultivated land bordered by the wild sea, and the utter disorder and chaos of the town meetings where the people were busy condemning one another to death for loving the Evil One. Now one could show the hysteria as it grew rather than for the most part reporting it only."
- Several versions of a sound recording of The Crucible in the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, New York, Repertory Theater are available and are published by Caedmon.
- The Crucible has also been made into an opera with music by Robert Ward and libretto by Bernard Stambler. Recordings of the New York City Opera performance have been produced by Composers Recordings and Troy Albany Records.
- In 1995 Penguin Books produced an interactive multimedia CD-ROM which...
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What Do I Read Next?
- Shortly after The Crucible was published, and Miller was denied a visa to visit Brussels on the grounds of his supposed communist sympathies, he wrote a satirical piece called "A Modest Proposal for the Pacification of the Public Temper" in which denied that he supported the communist cause. The title is a reference to another satirical essay by Jonathan Swift author of Gulliver's Travels, entitled A Modest Proposal.
- George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan (1923) contains historical notes, a trial, confessions and recantations, and deals. The play deals with themes of social order and individual freedom similar to those examined in The Crucible.
- Marion L. Starkey's book, The Witch Trials in Massachusetts (Knopf, 1949), came out before The Crucible and was one of the first books to generate interest in the Salem Witch Trials. The text provides an interesting counterpoint to Miller's work, establishing the historical groundwork upon which he created his play.
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Bibliography and Further Reading
All quotations in this Enotes edition were taken from the Penguin edition of the play, New York, 1981.
Ansen, David. "One Devil of a Time." In Newsweek, December 2, 1996, p. 80.
Corliss, Richard. "Going All the Way." In Time, Vol. 148, no. 25, December 2, 1996, p 81.
Douglass, James W. “Miller’s The Crucible: Which Witch Is Which?” In Renascence, vol. XV, no. 3, Spring, 1963, pp. 145–151.
Griffin, John and Griffin, Alice. “Arthur Miller Discusses The Crucible.” In Theatre Arts, vol. XXXCII, no. 10, October, 1953, pp. 33–34.
Hayes, Richard. Review of The Crucible. In Commonweal, Vol. LVII, no. 20, February 20, 1953, p. 498.
Hewes, Henry. “Arthur Miller and How He Went to the Devil.” In The Saturday Review, New York, vol. XXXVI, no. 5, January 31, 1953, pp. 24–26.
Hill, Philip G. “The Crucible: A Structural View.” In Modern Drama, vol. 10, no. 3, December, 1967, pp. 312–317.
Hope-Wallace, Philip. Review of The Crucible. In Time & Tide, vol. 35, no. 47, November 20, 1954, p. 1544.
Huftel, Sheila. Arthur Miller: The Burning Glass. The Citadel Press, 1965.
Introduction to Arthur Miller’s Collected Plays. The Viking Press, 1957, pp. 3–55.
Interview with Arthur...
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Bigsby, C. W. E. “Arthur Miller.” Williams, Miller, Albee. Vol. 2 in A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Bonnet, Jean-Marie. “Society Versus the Individual in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.” English Studies 63, no. 1 (February, 1982): 32-36. Solid analysis of the central themes. Contends that The Crucible explores the balance between social responsibility and individual freedom.
Budick, E. Miller. “History and Other Spectres in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible,” in Modern Drama. XXVIII (December, 1985), pp. 535-552.
Ferres, John H. “Still in the Present Tense: The Crucible Today,” in University College Quarterly. XVII (May, 1972), pp. 8-18.
Foulkes, A.P. Literature and Propaganda, 1983.
McGill, William J. “The Crucible of History: Arthur Miller’s John Proctor,” in New England Quarterly. LIV (June, 1981), pp. 258-264.
Martin, Robert A. “Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: Background and Sources.” Modern Drama 20, no. 3 (September, 1977): 279-292. Contends that the play transcends the topical parallel of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and...
(The entire section is 340 words.)