How many people died in Arthur Miller's The Crucible?

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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At the end of the play, before John Proctor's execution, there is mention of twelve who have already been hung for witchcraft and seven others in prison sentenced to hang. Not all those who died are specifically mentioned in the play. The ones mentioned played an important role in the events leading up to the play's dramatic climax.

Sarah Osborne, a beggar, was arrested, found guilty of witchcraft and hanged, probably because she was a simple-minded woman who was seen as a nuisance. George Jacobs was accused by Thomas Putnam's daughter, Ruth, because Putnam had been involved in a protracted land dispute with him. With George out of the way, Putnam could lay an undisputed claim to his property. Rebecca Nurse was also accused and arrested but she staunchly refused to confess to witchcraft. Putnam's wife accused her of witchery since she lost most of her babies in childbirth whilst Rebecca gave birth and raised healthy children. The motive here was envy. 

Martha Corey is arrested and charged because her husband innocently expressed concern about her obsession with reading. Her husband, Giles, is also arrested when he later pleads his wife's and Rebecca Nurse's innocence and accuses Putnam of manipulating the court, but refuses to name witnesses to support his allegations. Once again, it is Mr. Putnam who is insistent that Giles should be arrested and charged because he has a land dispute with Giles. Both Martha and Giles are later executed. 

Tituba, Reverend Parris's maidservant from Barbados, has been in prison from the outset for encouraging the girls to indulge in witchcraft. She, too, is hanged.

John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth are arrested for witchcraft. Rebecca is arrested first after a poppet, supposedly made by her to harm Abigail, is found in their house. Proctor pleads his wife's innocence, but is later arrested when Elizabeth lies to protect his honor. At the end of the play, Proctor tears up his confession to preserve the goodness of his name and is taken away to be executed together with Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, and a few others.

Others who were hanged and are specifically mentioned in the play are Mary Eastey, Goody Osbourne, and Bridget Bishop. In all, nineteen people are referred to in the play, but not all are mentioned by name. 

mrsheinzelmann's profile pic

mrsheinzelmann | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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In the play The Crucible, many characters are executed on the charge of witchery. Characters were given a choice to confess their sins of being witches or practicing witchcraft in return for their lives or to claim innocence and be hanged. Due to the fact that they lived in a theocracy, or a government based on religion, and these were Puritans, many would not lie even if it meant saving their lives.

Here is a list of executed characters from the play: Bridget Bishop, Martha Corey and Giles Corey (who was pressed to death), Mary Easty, Mr. Jacobs, Rebecca Nurse, John Proctor, Tituba, Goody Osborne and Goody Good.

In reality, nineteen men and women were hanged during the trials that swept through Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

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seakent's profile pic

seakent | eNotes Newbie

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Since the play is a fictionalized account of the Salem Witch Trials, 19 people were hanged, one man was pressed and up to thirteen people who were accused, died in prison. This "up to" is because sources disagree on the exact number of people who died in prison. This results in a total of around 33 people, however, more realistically, 27 people died during the Salem Witch Trials.

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