Defining a “crucible” Crucible: A container for melting something Testing circumstances: a place or set of circumstances where people or things are subjected to forces that test them
Abigail Williams Orphaned niece of Reverend Parris She is extremely jealous of Elizabeth Proctor and uses her power in the town to rid herself of people who have insulted her in the past. She is the leader of the girls.
John Proctor Husband to Elizabeth He knows that the girls are pretending but cannot convince the town An individual and critical thinker; strong personality He refuses to admit to witchcraft or to consider Abigail as anything more than a liar.
Elizabeth Proctor Wife of John Proctor She feels responsible for the withering relationship between her husband and herself. Described as a cold woman.
Tituba Servant to the Parris household She is a native of Barbados. She is enlisted by Ruth Putnam and Abigail to cast spells and create charms. When Abigail turns on her to save herself from punishment, Tituba confesses to all and saves herself.
Reverend Parris Pastor of the church in Salem He is the father of Betty and the uncle of Abigail Williams. He believes that he is being persecuted and that the townspeople do not respect his position as a man of God. Needs to prove to the community that he is holy.
Deputy Governor Danforth He seems to feel particularly strongly that the girls are honest. He is sensitive to the presence of the devil and reacts explosively to whatever evidence is presented.
The Girls Betty Parris- Daughter of the Reverend, cousin to Abigail Williams. She is a weak girl who goes along with her cousin as soon as she is threatened. Susanna Walcott- Easily guided by Abigail. Mercy Lewis- Servant to the Putnam household. She is a merciless girl who seems to delight in the girls activities. Mary Warren-Servant to the Proctor household. She is not strong enough to fight Abigail.
Reverend Hale An expert on witches; wants to save the witches, not kill them. An honest man; intelligent. Feels sympathy for the accused. Starts to question the court.
Ethical Scenario You have been wrongfully accused of cheating on an exam. If you admit to cheating, you will serve a lunch detention, have the chance to take the test again, and have the incident recorded in your permanent school record. If you maintain your innocence, you will receive a zero on the exam and an after-school detention. You will not, however, be labeled a cheater on your school records. What are the plusses and minuses of each choice? Would you rather be labeled a cheater and receive less punishment, or defend your innocence and receive a larger punishment?
Describe the Reverend Paris. Whatclues do you receive that he will be one of the villains of the play? • “villainous path” • persecution complex • no interest in children • easily insulted
Describe the life of the Puritans, according to Arthur Miller.• they had no novelists• wouldn’t allow books to be read• no celebrations• focus on prayer• hard work kept people out of trouble more than religion
What beliefs and ideas did thePuritans have about the woods around them?• “Devil’s last preserve”• “last place on earth that was not paying homage to God”• they couldn’t convert the Natives• “heathens” took the lives of their family members,• area of mystery and feelings of persecution
Describe the general revenge that Miller speaks of in reference to the Salem witch hunts.• hatred of neighbors• land-lust• accusing the neighbor of witchcraft was pious• “old scores can be settled on a plane of heavenly combat between Lucifer and the Lord”,• jealousy of the happiness of others
• Paris expresses concern for his daughter, but his comments to Abigail suggest that he has another motive for wanting to know what • self-interested happened in the forest. • concerned about his What does his reputation in the conversation with village Abigail suggest about his • he may be difficult to personality? get along with since he is on the verge of losing his job
What do we learn about Abigail’s character, specifically in lines 131- 147?• “your name in town – it is entirely white, is it not?”• proud – will not be a slave to anyone• refuses work she considers below her• troublemaker – can’t find a job
• How are Betty Paris and Ruth Putnam behaving? What do the townspeople think about their trance?• What did Reverend Paris see in the woods?
Describe the Putnams.• Mrs. Putnam is a “twisted • Vindictive = had a man jailed soul”, “death-ridden” and for debts he didn’t owe “haunted by dreams” because he got the minister job. Putnam thought the• Believes in the village wronged his family. accusations of witchcraft • Tried to change his father’s and blames witches for will, by force. the deaths of her seven • Many of the accusations in children. Salem are in the handwriting• Putnam is a “man with of Thomas Putnam, or he many grievances”: his was a key witness. He used his daughter to point fingers brother in law was at people. denied the minister job in Salem.
Why do you think Parris tries tochange the Putnams’ beliefs about witchcraft at this point? • Parris wants the Putnams’ support so that he won’t have to leave Salem • he knows Putnam is a bitter and vengeful man that wants to ruin his reputation since Parris is in the job that his family wanted
• Putnam continues to talk about witchcraft to ruin the name of Parris and his family.• Tituba is consulted about the girls’ health because she knows how to talk to the dead• Mercy Lewis’ name is ironic because Miller describes her as “merciless”
What does Putnam attempt to get Parris to do?• admit to the gathered village that there are witches in Salem• before accusations start flying; he wants Parris to admit the influence of a witch in his own home, to make a stand against the Devil
Describe Mary Warren. What does Mary want the girls to do? Why?• subservient, naïve, lonely• confess and be whipped for dancing and “the other things”, better than hanging for witchcraft. She only looked.
What new conclusions can you drawabout Abigail, given her comments inlines 353-364 and what Betty reveals about her? • she drank blood, a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife • she takes charge - a natural leader • dominates the conversation, threatens the other girls if they do not support her story • cruel and intimidating - a bully • her family was killed by Indians as she watched • has feelings for Proctor
On the basis of Miller’s mini-essay, whatrole do you think John Proctor will play: hero, villain, major character, minor, foil? Explain.• did not tolerate • made fools feel foolish and hypocrites not much liked • lies were spread in town• even-tempered about him• powerful of body •troubled soul • sinner against his own• not easily led vision of conduct• made up his own mind •thinks of himself as a fraud • respected and feared • quiet confidence and hidden force
Reread the stage directions in lines 391- 404. What does Proctor’s facial expression reveal about his attitude toward Abigail as he first addresses her?• familiarity, jest, maybe flirtation What has caused Abigail to• Abigail grows angry with lose her job at the Proctor’s Proctor because he has house? refused her need for Why might Abigail resist further physical intimacy Proctor’s decision to end the affair? Do you think she really loves him?
As Proctor responds to Abigail’s insults about Elizabeth in lines 457-463, what do his words and the stage directions suggest about his view of his marriage?• wants to protect Elizabeth and his marriage, he scolds Abby, he is angry with himself for the affair
• As Betty listens to her father’s sermon she cannot hear the Lord’s • Does Miller want the name mentioned audience/readers to believe• The Putnams take it as a that Betty is indeed sign of witchcraft bewitched or possessed by a demonic force? Make two lists: one stating reasons why the audience is meant to believe the girls are bewitched, and the other giving evidence that contradicts that view.
The relationship between Francis and Rebecca Nurse and Thomas Putnam is complicated and unfriendly.• LAND: Nurse had a • WITCHCRAFT: Rebecca land war with a and her husband are Putnam relative in the well respected in the past; people resent his community, but were social status since he accused by Putnam’s rented his land and wife and daughter. made enough to buy it.• MINISTRY: Nurses opposed Putnam’s choice for minister.
In what sense do Rebecca Nurse’swords in lines 522-530 set her apart from the other characters? • she is calm and has a calming effect on Betty, who quiets down in her presence; the voice of reason, she uses past experience rather than emotion and rumor to think about the girl’s illness
What do the comments from Rebecca and Proctor suggest about thelikelihood of their being caught up in a hysteria over witchcraft? • Rebecca and John urge Parris not to search for “loose spirits” (535-6), she pushes Proctor to stay calm and suggests that Parris send the Reverend Hale, a witch hunter, away to secure peace in the community.
Discuss Parris’ greed and ego.• he demands free firewood even though his contract allows him 6 pounds to buy it• he demanded a deed to his house• concerned with money and possession – not religion• feels persecuted,• demands respect and threatens disobedience with Hell
What does Proctor criticize about Parris’ sermons? (lines 580-4)• Parris preaches hell and damnation instead of about God.• Proctor hasn’t been seen at church for a while.• He doesn’t like the Reverend.
What personal conflicts are revealed between the villagers of Salem?• Rebecca vs. Mrs. Putnam (over sick children)• Putnam vs. Proctor (regarding Proctor’s spiritual condition)• Proctor vs. Parris (regarding Parris’s preaching style)• Giles vs. Parris (regarding Parris’s salary and benefits)
• John Proctor is accused leading a faction against Parris• Putnam believes John is taking wood from land that belongs to Putnam• (Putnam believes he got the land from his grandfather’s will, when in fact the grandfather never owned it to give it away. Proctor bought it off the Nurses).
Describe Giles Corey. What is he known for in town? • he is famous for bringing charges against his neighbors • he believes they are always telling lies about him and sues them for defamation of character – usually without proof
What can you infer about Proctor’s personality and attitudes from his remark in line 646?• not easily led by others – especially if he disagrees with their morality• he does not like people who abuse power in an attempt to control others• he is not afraid to say what he thinks – even if it seems rebellious
What is dangerous about Proctor’s behavior? • his individualism can get him in trouble, since it is not valued in the community
Describe Mr. Hale.• eager-eyed intellectual• proud of his errand – witch hunting• considers himself a specialist• happy to use his knowledge publicly• studies the invisible world• believes in the underworld and Lucifer’s minions• not one of his lines has ever made the audience laugh• considers himself superior to the villagers• his goal is light and goodness• is supposed to be impartial
The Devil according to Miller:• Cosmology is divided into the • Political ideas (such as works of God and the works of the communism and anti- Devil (morality vs. sin) communism) are described as• holly or hellish. Political Until Christianity, good and evil, acceptance of communism is an positive and negative were part of alliance with Red hell, inhumane, the same continuum/force. diabolically malevolent. Underworld was never a hostile area, just the death side of life. All • People’s fear of the Devil was gods were useful. Christianity used to force obedience to necessitated the idea of man’s authority worthlessness until redeemed, and • “The Devil is a wily one, and, until created the Devil as a weapon to an hour before he fell, even God whip men into surrender. thought him beautiful in Heaven”• Devil used politically; rebels of – hard to discover the motivations history were accused of having of people’s actions, can’t always communed with the Devil predict what people will do • Our opposites are always robed in sexual sin
Why does Miller believe that there was Devil worship in Salem?• women indulged in communities of women• selected young men to love in the woods• worshiped the gods of fun and pleasure because they were denied any power
• Hale appears on the scene with heavy books, weighed down with authority.• They will back up the opinions of Hale in regard to witchcraft• He recognize Rebecca Nurse because she looks like a good soul should - her works of charity are known in his town• Hale will not be quick to believe the charges of witchcraft – is called a “sensible man” – he asks for his judgment to be accepted by the town, even if he rules against witchcraft – says they should not go by superstition and look to the precise marks of the devil (lines 751-6))
What do you find about the reason Ruth (Mrs. Putnam’s daughter) wasattempting to communicate with her dead sisters? • she was sent by Mrs. Putnam to instruct Tituba to communicate with the dead so that Mrs. Putnam can find out who murdered her babies – hypocritical: use a witch to look for witchcraft; Mrs. Putnam is willing to use witchcraft to her own benefit
How does Miller describe Giles Corey?• early 80s • he claims that his wife• a comic hero reads strange books and• a scapegoat that was that he cannot say his blamed for lots – missing prayers when she does cows and fires this• innocent and brave• didn’t care for public opinion• only started praying recently when he married Martha
Pay attention to Hale’s questioning of Betty (leading the witness)• Hale puts in the mind of Betty (and possibly the other bystanders) in regard to being afflicted by witches – tells Betty that the spirit afflicting her does not have to be a man or woman, it can be animal and invisible to others – leads the way for the use of spectral evidence during the trials)
Hysteria • Hale helps to create the hysteria about witches that is starting to sweep through Salem – pressures the girls so they feel trapped and start looking to shift the attention onto someone else
Abigail’s responses• The kettle that was • Abigail says Tituba made present during the dancing her drink blood and laugh in the forest was for soup in church• Frog “jumped in, we never put it in”• Abi turns on Tituba to shift attention, since Tituba is an easy target as a slave Why do you think Abi laughs in and Barbados native - church? she’s already an outcast in the community and thought of as different and
A confession was supposed Tituba to be a wish to come to Heaven’s side, so those that• Parris threatens a lethal confessed were spared (but whipping if she doesn’t were liars in the eyes of God, and therefore damned to Hell confess after death).• Putnam threatens to hang her• she is blessed by the priests and encouraged to name others - assured safety and help• Hale says she is God’s instrument and her mission is to help cleanse the village – makes her feel important and appeals to her vanity
• Putnam suggests the names of Goody Osborn and Sarah Good.• Tituba just tells them what they want to hear.• Abigail and Betty take advantage of the situation to make sure they will not be blamed for dancing in the forest – begin to call out names, Abigail says she signed the Devils book but wants to go back to Jesus, her previous irreligious behavior is ascribed to witchcraft – not her criticism and lack of faith• Hale gives them confidence and authority by saying they are doing God’s work• The more afraid these characters are of being persecuted and punished the more willing they are to implicate others
What are Tituba’s true feelings toward Parris? How do we find them out? • she claims the Devil wanted her to kill Parris because he is mean, no goodly man, not gentle – she hates him
What do the characters in the play believe about witches?• exist and are the agents of the Devil• can control people and charm children• can take the form of animals
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