The Crucible by benbenzhou


									The Crucible
        What’s a Crucible?
• A vessel made of material that does
  not melt easily, used to melting
  materials at high temperatures;
• A severe test or trial of patience or
  belief (searching, self-reflection);
• A place, time, or situation where
  powerful intellectual, social, economic,
  or political forces meet.
        Hmm…A Vessel?
• What is the vessel that does not melt
• In Danforth’s words: “Now, Mr.
  Proctor, before I decide whether I shall
  hear you or not, it is my duty to tell
  you this. We burn a hot fire here; it
  melts down all concealment.” (Page
• Was Danforth right?
            …Or a Trial?
• What’s the trial? Think carefully…
• There’s an external trial in the
• There’s an internal trial: Who is John
 The Force is Strong in This
• What kind of forces are meeting in
• Revenge
• Fear / Panic
• Prejudice
• Power
• Religious
• Status Quo
         Good Luck, John!
• Let’s compare “Good Night, and Good Luck”
  with “The Crucible” for a moment.
• What forces are clashing in each story?
• Power, Politics, Prejudice, Status Quo
• What’s the trial in “Good Night, and Good
  Luck”? Think carefully…
• Do you stand up to McCarthy?
• What’s the vessel?
• A courtroom without protections, perhaps…
    So What Are We Looking
• The societies in “Good Night” and “The Crucible”
  both grappled with a multitude of problems that
  often stemmed from one or more of the Three Ps:
  Power, Prejudice, and Panic.
• Let’s examine our ten themes with an eye towards
• For example, what effect does power have on each
  character’s identity? Does prejudice dictate their
  character arc? Do they panic when placed in a
  difficult situation?
• Moreover, watch carefully for other parallels
  between the 1950s and the 1690s – and between
  those eras and the present.
               Quick Write!
• On a separate piece of paper, list some examples
  from your own experiences.
• For example: Have you ever faced prejudice for
  your age, your ethnicity, your gender, your
  sexuality, your faith, etc.?
• Have you ever felt fear of something unknown, or
  felt feared because someone didn’t understand you?
• What power relations do you navigate each day?
  How often do you feel as though you completely
  control your actions?
• Have you ever been given a name that isn’t yours –
  either out of affection, or hostility? Have you
  accepted the names other people give you? Do
  people call you different names based on how they
  treat you, or treat you based on what they call you?
         What’s In a Name?
• You may have noticed that names, or
  identities, or reputations are at risk in both
• One could argue that the stakes in “The
  Crucible” are higher – they’re playing for
  keeps, so to speak.
• Yet Proctor willingly goes to hang after
  asking, “How may I live without my name?”
  (Page 143).
• Why is the loss of his name / identity /
  reputation such a problem?
• (Remember that “The Crucible” serves as an
      Names and Identities
• Re-read the character descriptions at
  the beginning of the play; you’ll be
  surprised, particularly because you
  now know what eventually happens to
  these characters.
• Parris: Pages 3-4; Abigail: Pages 8-9;
  Ann/Thomas Putnam: Pages 10, 14-
  15;     Mary Warren: Page 18;
  Proctor: Pages 20-21; The Nurses:
  Pages 25-26; Hale: Pages 33, 36;
  Giles: Pages 40-41.
                   Who is…?
•   Who   is   John Proctor?
•   Who   is   Judge Danforth?
•   Who   is   Reverend Hale?
•   Who   is   Giles Corey?
•   Who   is   Elizabeth Proctor?
•   Who   is   Parris? Putnam? Hathorne?
•   Who   is   Cheever? Who is Herrick?
       More Specifically…
• How is each character affected by, or
  responsive to, the themes you chose?
• These questions should be fairly easy
  for you to answer for the character
  you played; can you find evidence in
  your lines to support your opinions?
  Can you identify thematic relationships
  for a character you didn’t play?
           Quick Write!
• On the back of your sheet of paper,
  explain how four of the themes we
  chose – both the ones you chose, and
  two others – relate to the character
  you played.
• Next, explain how two of those themes
  – one that you chose, and one you
  didn’t – relate to another character.
         Conflicts in the Play
• Three types of conflicts:
  – Character vs. Character (Abigail vs. Proctor)
  – Character vs. Society (Proctor against
  – Character vs. Self (Proctor vs. Proctor)
       The Nature of Prejudice
•   Why do we feel prejudice?
•   Remember the “knife” example?
•   Prejudice means to “pre-judge”
•   Stems from a lack of knowledge
          Power, Proctor
• Look back at pages 20-21
• From Page 30 (Proctor: “Mr. Parris,
  you are the first minister ever did
  demand…”) to Page 31 (Proctor: “I
  mean it solemnly, Rebecca; I do not
  like the smell of this ‘authority.’”)
• Pages 136, 143, and 144
         Power, Putnam
• “This society will not be a bag to
  swing around your head, Mr. Putnam.”
  (Proctor, bottom of Page 27)
• “You cannot command Mr. Parris. We
  vote by name in this society, not by
  acreage.” (Proctor, Page 28)
            Power, Abigail
• Abigail tries to drink a charm that will kill
  Elizabeth; this helps start a chain of events
  that concludes with Proctor’s death. (19)
• She feels powerless to keep Proctor
• Openly threatens Danforth (Page 108)
• “It’s God’s work I do” – Page 115 (Mary
  Warren also says this on Page 59, although
  she says “we” rather than “I.”)
• She gains absolute power – and is corrupted
  absolutely – but pays the price for it, and
  ends up a prostitute in Boston
 Power/Evil/Justice: The Salem
• We witness the destruction of loyalty in the
  pursuit of loyalty to Christ in “The
  Crucible,” or to the country in the 1950s.
• One’s devotion to an idea or ideals took
  precedence over one’s devotion to other
• We watch as Miller’s characters are
  corrupted by the court; Mary goes wild, and
  Cheever takes his new duties far too
• Cheever is the ultimate traitor – the
  embodiment of power’s corrupting influence.
  He refuses to challenge the court’s abuses,
  and actively enables the court to continue
   Other Effects of the Court
• Our perception of Hale changes as he storms out of
  the court. He is no longer Proctor’s antagonist.
• However, has Hale been corrupted by the court as
  well? Think about Act IV as you answer.
• Herrick also loses himself; he is introduced as
  “somewhat shamefaced” when Elizabeth is first
  taken to Salem, and he turns to hard drink by Act
• However, John Proctor changes as well, and
  possibly for the better – he confesses his sins in
  open court, and rediscovers his honor.
• Think “Crucible” – not just a melting down, but a
  burning away as well. When Danforth mentioned the
  destruction of “all concealment,” I don’t think this is
  what he had in mind…
    Parallels: “Good Night”
• “Is every defense an attack upon the
  court?” (Hale, page 94)
• What happened to those who
 questioned the McCarthy court’s
 abuses in the 1950s?
• “We cannot blink it more. There is a
  prodigious fear of the court in the
  Then there is a prodigious guilt in the
  country!” (Page 98)
          Allegorical Bliss
• “These are all covenanted Christians, sir.”
  “Then I am sure they may have nothing to
  fear. Mr. Cheever, have warrants drawn for
  all of these – arrest for examination.” (Page
• “No uncorrupted man may fear this court,
  Mr. Hale! None! [to Giles] You are under
  arrest for contempt of this court.” (Page 98)
• Remember that Danforth accepts no
  depositions, and frowns on the presence of
  lawyers. Sound familiar?
    Parallels: “Good Luck”
• Edward R. Murrow
• How does he compare
  to Proctor?

• Don Hollenbeck
• How does he compare
  to Hale?
The “Long Boring Passages”
• The opening pages of “The Crucible”
  feature very little dialogue. Miller
  chose to write extensively about the
  links between the period he lived in
  (the 1950s) and the period of the play
  (the 1690s).
• How do these paragraphs help us
  compare the Three Ps’ effects in
  “Good Night, and Good Luck” with
  those in “The Crucible”?
• Re-read them, and be amazed!
Allegorical Nature of “The Crucible”
• An allegory uses symbolic settings,
  characters, and/or plots to achieve an
  – Discusses one thing while referring to another
  – Deals in parallels!
  – Examples: Theocracy (government by God’s
    law) in Salem vs. the McCarthyist courts
• We don’t just see parallels between the world in
  1692 and the world in the 1950s
• We also see characters who parallel other
  – A doppelganger is a character whose arc parallels
    that of another character, only in a different fashion
  – Examples: Cheever and Herrick (one eager to
    follow the court, the other reluctant); Abigail and
    Elizabeth (adulteress vs. wife, both loving Proctor);
    Abigail and Mary (both girls affected by Proctor, but
    one is strong and cunning while the other is weak
    and simple)
       To Review and Study:
• Think about the settings of the play –
  physical setting, temporal (time) setting,
  theological/societal setting (better
  understand the Puritans!)
• Think about the relationships between the
  characters, and how their actions are
  affected by them
       To Review and Study:
• Think about the natures of the characters,
  and how their actions are affected by
  them. Are they hypocrites? (Parris is
  supposed to preach simple values,
  whereas he lectures over and over about
  golden candlesticks.) Are they honorable?
  (Giles being pressed to death for his
       To Review and Study:
• You’ve defined the goals, desires, and
  motives for most of the characters by this
  point (or could do so if asked). How many
  of them get what they want – how many of
  them succeed? How many of them fail?
  (How do they succeed? If they fail, how do
  they contribute to the problems of the
  play? What specific actions or choices
  does each character make that helps the
  plot move along?)
            To Summarize:
•   Settings
•   Actions/Plots
•   Characters/Motives
•   Themes
•   Allegory/Parallels
•   Puritan Times – your Bradford,
    Rowlandson, and Edwards readings!

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