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.
• 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
• Fear / Panic
• 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
• Moreover, watch carefully for other parallels
between the 1950s and the 1690s – and between
those eras and the present.
• 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?”
• 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
• 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 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?
• 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?
• 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
• 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
• 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
• “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)
• 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)
• “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
• Don Hollenbeck
• How does he compare
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
• 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
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?)
• Puritan Times – your Bradford,
Rowlandson, and Edwards readings!