VIEWS: 19 PAGES: 30 POSTED ON: 12/17/2011
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 easily? • 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 89) • Was Danforth right? …Or a Trial? • What’s the trial? Think carefully… • There’s an external trial in the courthouse • There’s an internal trial: Who is John Proctor? The Force is Strong in This One… • What kind of forces are meeting in Salem? • 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 For? • 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 each. • 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 stories. • 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 Salem/Courts) – 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 Court • 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 people. • We watch as Miller’s characters are corrupted by the court; Mary goes wild, and Cheever takes his new duties far too seriously. • 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 IV. • 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 country-” 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 94) • “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 effect – Discusses one thing while referring to another – Deals in parallels! – Examples: Theocracy (government by God’s law) in Salem vs. the McCarthyist courts Doppelgangers • We don’t just see parallels between the world in 1692 and the world in the 1950s • We also see characters who parallel other characters! – 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 silence.) 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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