Diego Corral Literature and History The Crucible, by Arthur Miller Class objectives: 1.) Illustrate the Salem witch trials for the students, to give an idea of the motives behind these actions. 2.) Show how the play mirrors the actions taken by Sen. Joseph McCarthy to rid the U.S. of communists, and what he personally perceived as communists. Summary: Set in Puritan New England, a group of girls is caught, by Rev. Parris, dancing in the forest at night with a black slave. With rumors of witchcraft abound, the town sends for Rev. Hale, an expert on witchcraft, while the ringleader of the girls, Abigail, says that they were only dancing. The town gathers in Rev. Parris’ home, were the men quickly begin arguing about land deeds and money. At this time Rev. Hale arrives and begins questioning Tituba, the slave, who promptly confesses to consorting with the devil and names others who do so as well. A week later, John Proctor, who had an affair with Abigail, is arguing with his wife Elizabeth as to whether or not expose Abigail as a fraud, later we find out that Elizabeth has been accused of witchcraft. Elizabeth is arrested along with the wives of other respectable men. Proctor convinces his servant Mary to denounce the other girls, but in court the girls accuse her of bewitching them. Proctor then admits to having an affair with Abigail, but his wife lies about it to protect his honor, thus he is discredited in the eyes of the court. Furthermore, the girls continue accusing Mary who then breaks down and accuses Proctor of being a witch. He is then arrested and Rev. Hale quits the court. Once autumn arrives the trials have begun to cause unrest in neighboring towns. Abigail has fled the town with all of Rev. Parris’ money, and Rev. Hale is trying to get the accused to falsely admit their guilt so that they will be saved from the gallows, yet they refuse to do so. Judge Danforth convinces Elizabeth to try to get Proctor to admit his guilt. Proctor, wanting to live, agrees but refuses to incriminate anyone else. However, when he finds out the confession will be nailed to the church door he tears up the confession and renounces it. Despite Hale’s desperate pleas Proctor goes to the gallows. Class: Students will have read Act IV of the play before coming to class. We will begin with a discussion on the Salem witch hunts and then move on to Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Then students will be presented with the question (for class discussion), how can a piece of literature help us understand to separate events that happened almost 300 years apart? Class work: The students will then be asked to rewrite Act IV as if it were happening in present day U.S. Afterwards they will have to answer the following questions: 1.) What do you think were the motives behind the witch and communist hunts? 2.) List and explain events that have occurred recently that could be described as witch hunts.
3.) Looking at the resolution of both the witch and communist hunts, were they resolved fairly? Timeline: Students will work on rewriting the final act in class and at home over two days. The questions will be answered for homework after the second class period in which the rewritten act will be handed in. Assessment: For the rewritten Act students will be graded on appropriate language and settings (no anachronisms), as well as relevance to the themes in the play and their successful adaptation to present day. The questions will be graded on the analysis of the historical themes and their relevance to the ideas presented in the exercise.