Topics for Further Study

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  • 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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