Socratic Seminar Questions The Crucible Your well-considered ideas in response to the issues raised below (take notes and/or keep a journal if that helps you keep your ideas straight), will evidence your understanding of this play. You must be able to speak intelligently about the questions/prompts below. If you are unable to participate effectively, you will be asked to write answers to each of the questions below, as in journal entries to be collected and scored. You will never be asked to respond to any prompt concerning issues not yet raised in the play, but you will need to be able to reflect back on past events. Act I 1. What did Parris witness when he saw the girls in the forest? What does the drinking of blood or the poppets or the boiling pot indicate about the girls’ attitudes toward witchcraft? 2. What is Reverend Parris’s personal crisis? How is it established by the opening scene? How and why does it develop from a personal to a social crisis? 3. Why would Miller introduce the Putnams so early in the play? 4. What authority does Putnam have in the town? 5. What is John Proctor’s opinion of Parris’s authority? 6. Why would Miller contrive to have Abigail and Proctor alone in the room? 7. What is your impression of the community of Salem from this first act? 8. Miller describes Hale as “a young doctor on his first call.” What does this description suggest about Hale? What is his motivation for being in Salem? 9. How is the coolness between John Proctor, Putnam and Mr. Parris shown in the way they address each other? How does it differ from the way that Giles Corey, Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor address each other? What does this indicate about the underlying feelings in the community? 10. How does the imagery the characters use in their everyday speech emphasize their religious background? What biblical imagery do you find? How does the manner of speech Miller chooses help set this drama firmly in the late 17th century time of the Puritans (as opposed to the 1920’s or 2007)? Act II 1. How does the relationship between John and Elizabeth reflect the conflict within their community? 2. How is the inner conflict of John Proctor developed in this scene? Consider his conversation with both Elizabeth and Hale. 3. Miller establishes a tone of accusation and guild in the personal relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor which tends to parallel the events happening in the community. What are some examples of that reflect Elizabeth’s accusatory tone and John’s underlying guilt? Act III 1. Why would Miller begin this act with an empty stage and voices off? 2. How does John Proctor become more and more personally involved in the court proceedings? Why does Elizabeth lie? What is ironic about this? 3. What quotes can you find that show Hale beginning to doubt the methods used by the court to ascertain truth? How is he disputing the authorities in order to assist the accused? What emotions might he be experiencing during this time (remember how he felt as the “young doctor” when he first arrived)? 4. How is Danforth’s authority immediately established? What might Miller be saying about authority in the way he depicts Danforth, and in the lines Danforth speaks? 5. What changes do you note in the character of Hale? 6. How effective is the end of this act? Is Miller’s purpose – his themes and concerns – served by this scene? 7. How does Danforth use language to impose his authority on the proceedings? 8. How does Aabigail effectively use language to regain the support of the court? Act IV 1. What changes have occurred in the characters of Hale and Parris? What kind of authority or standing in the community does each man have at this point in the drama? Why is this significant? How would these (or do these) changes affect an audience (you)? 2. What does Danforth see as his duty? How does this maintain the essential conflict of the drama? 3. Elizabeth says, “It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery.” How has she changed? 4. Throughout the play, Miller has juxtaposed John Proctor’s personal conflict to the wider social conflict. How does the scene with the Proctors alone on stage serve Miller’s purpose? Whole Play 1. Is the law always right? Does a government always have the best interests of its people at heart? What pressures face the individual who refuses to submit to the governing authorities? Can an individual be right and a government be wrong? As John Proctor says, “Is the accuser always holy now?” 2. What is a “crucible?” What possible meanings might it have in this play? What references are made to it in the play?
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