Form The Time
The Witch Trials Playlist
The Monthly Enquirer
Cover Story: Witch Trials
Ask Helpful Sarah
A series of trials were started in
Salem. The whole affair started when two
town girls were taken ill in the night. They
could not speak or eat and lay still and
tormented all day. As the sickness
progressed, bits of information began to
come out. Reverend Paris said that he
saw the children dancing and chanting.
He even said that he saw one of the girls
naked, dancing through the woods. The ill
girls and some other servant girls in the
village had been with an indentured
servant named Tituba. She had come
from Barbados and talked of curses and
the devil. The girls were confronted and
confessed to their crimes along with
naming those who walked with the devil.
The trials have escalated and have turned
to chaos. Evidence is little more than
hearsay and upstanding members of
society are being accused. We can only
say how lucky we are that we have no
witches, real or otherwise, in our town.
The weather lately has
Weather become quite stormy. Dark
thunder clouds have descended
upon our land and it rains
continuously. It has been a dry
year though, so I hope our
crops will do well. Some are
Title Page blaming the witches for this
morbid weather. But weather
it’s the Devil himself or simply
nature more storms are coming
Ask Helpful Sarah
Dear Helpful Sarah,
My Servant acts quite strange.
She sits and mumbles and I am afraid to
catch her eye as I walk past. I don’t know
what to do. With all this talk of witches I
fear I might have one in my house now.
Oh I don’t know she frightens me
intensely. Sometimes as I lie awake at
night I hear the floorboards creak outside
my door. Last week I saw something in
the woodshed. I only hope that I will last
until you can reply.
Confused and Afraid
Well, Confused and Afraid, I hope
that you are sure of your
charges, because if you are not you are
messing about with deadly business. Just
because your servant is a little different
does not mean that she is into the dark
arts. Imagine if you were her: taken away
from your family, maybe on a different
continent, taken into basic slavery for a
Title Page family you may not like. Instead be a
good Christian and sympathize don’t
judge. Only God shall judge us.
The Nearby town of
Andover has thrown out the court.
They grew tired and annoyed at
the courts blatant dismissal of
reason in their proceedings with
witches. The court had abandoned
true evidence and fairness for the
shallow accusations of little girls.
So the court was overthrown in an
uproar. It began with a defendant
who, when pressured, questioned
how he could confess if either way
his soul would be damned.
At first the court held him in
contempt but as the trials continued a
few honorable men began to talk of how
unreasonable the court was being. These
“conspirators” questioned the court when
they arrested a local midwife who was a
pillar of the community. By that time
many families had been affected by the
trials and only a few had seen it in a
good light. The town came together and
drove the judges and the accusers out of
The opening scene starts out in
Salem, Massachusetts, with a sick Betty
Parris lying on a bed in a small bedroom.
Reverend Parris is kneeling next to the bed
praying and crying for his daughter.
Meanwhile, Abigail Williams enters, and
informs her uncle that the doctor has sent a
young girl by the name of Susanna Walcott.
Susanna tells Parris that the doctor has been
searching his books and can’t find a
medicine that can make Betty better, and
tells him to start to look at unnatural causes.
Parris in disbelief says that there isn’t an Abigail confesses to dancing in
unnatural cause, and tells the doctor to keep the woods, in order to protect Betty.
looking. Parris calls for Reverend Hale of Then, all of a sudden Betty begins to
Beverly. whimper and scream, and falls off the bed.
Betty then accuses Abigail of drinking blood
in order to kill Mrs. Proctor, and Abigail slaps
her. After this happens everyone leaves
Betty’s room except Mr. Proctor and Abigail
and they are talking about the affair that
happened between them a couple months
earlier. Hale arrives at the house and
informs Parris that they must find the devil
that is inside Betty. Once everyone returns
to the room Abigail, Tituba, and Betty start
accusing random people of witch craft.
This scene begins in Proctors living room,
eight days later. Proctor is eating dinner with Mrs.
Proctor, and he tells her that he is determined to please
her. Proctor finds out that Mary Warren went into town
even though he forbade her from going. Mrs. Proctor tells
him that there was no way she could stop her, and that
Mary went because she was an official of the court.
Proctor finds out that there are fourteen people in jail
being accused of witchcraft. Mrs. Proctor tells Proctor
that he must go into town to tell the people that Abigail
is faking it. Proctor tells her that he can’t prove it
because there weren’t other people with him and Abigail.
Mary warren comes back to Proctors house and
Proctor is noticeably mad. She gives Mrs. Proctor a
“poppet” and Mrs. Proctor puts it on the mantle above the
fire place. Mary tells them about the day in court and
what happened. She tells them that Mrs. Proctor has been
accused of witchcraft. Reverend Hale comes to proctors
house asking about Mrs. Proctor. Hale talks to them about
what happened in court that day. Cheever and Herrick
come to Proctors house and try to arrest Elizabeth with a
warrant. The act ends with the arrest of Elizabeth.
Act Three is set in the court room, where many people are discussing all the people being
accused of witchcraft. Mary says that she and all the other girls were pretending to be cursed by
the devil. The court is in shock and Proctor gets questioned by the judges. Proctor is informed that
his wife is going to be expecting a child, but the court thinks she is lying. He says it must be the
truth because that woman has never lied a day in her life. Abigail then enters the court room
along with a couple other girls. Abigail says that Mary is lying. Proctor then confesses that he and
Abigail had an affair, and Mrs. Proctor knew about it. They send Abigail into the room and ask her
if Proctor had ever had an affair that she knew about. Mrs. Proctor wanted to keep his name clean
so she lied and said that it never happened. Then, Proctor yelled out that he had had an affair, but
Mrs. Proctor had already lied. All of a sudden Abigail and the girls started screaming in terror and
pointing at the ceiling saying that Mary was trying to attack them with her spirit. The girls then
started mimicking everything Mary said. With all the chaos happening Hale decides o leave the
The act starts off in the jail. Herrick moves Tituba and Sarah Good
out of their cell. Paris calls Danforth and Hawthorne and they talk about
what has gone on the past few days and about the possibility of a riot
in Andover. Elizabeth is reunited with Proctor and they talk about her
child. She tells Proctor that it’s ok and that she has forgiven him for the
affair he had. Proctor confesses to witchcraft but says no to sign that he
confessed. He says that he wants to keep his good name. Proctor ends
up getting hung at the gallows.
Reverend Samuel Harris
REVEREND SAMUEL PARRIS
When the play starts out, Reverend Samuel
Parris is very upset because there is talk that his
daughter's sickness is linked to witchcraft. Being a
reverend, Parris is quick to deny any rumors, but his
respect in the community still fades. He tells
Abigail, "I have fought here three long years to bend
these stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now
when some good respect is rising for me in the
parish, you compromise my character" (Miller Act
I). Towards the end of act one, Tituba is forced to
confess to being a witch, and Parris takes part in
asking her for the names of everyone that she "saw
with the devil" (Miller Act I).
During the trials in act three, Parris aims to
convict everyone that is being tried. He is not willing
to listen to anyone that attempts to defend
himself, and he flatters the judges, but they make it
obvious that they are only being annoyed. After
practically the entire town has been accused of
having something to do with witchcraft and Abigail
and her friends have fled town, Parris realizes that
too many people are going to die, and he starts to
fear for his own life. Over the course of the entire
play, it becomes clear that Parris is a selfish
man, and used the situation in Salem only to benefit
Abigail Williams, the niece of
Reverend Parris, was one of the driving
forces behind the entire story of the Salem
witch trials. She was very influential, and
had a lot of power over the other girls. Mary
Warren did not want to testify for Elizabeth
Proctor. She tells Proctor, “I cannot charge
murder on Abigail. […] She’ll kill me for
sayin’ that!” (Miller Act II). In the
beginning, Abigail realizes that to stay out of
trouble, all she has to do is accuse other
people of being witches, and soon she uses
this as a way to seek revenge on those who
have displeased her. She is very
manipulative throughout the trials, and
because lying is not allowed, everyone
believes her. She ends up leaving town
because a nearby town has began
petitioning the witch trials and she knows
that it is only a matter of time until she will
have to sit through her own trial.
REVEREND SAMUEL HALE
When Reverend John Hale comes to
examine Betty Parris in the beginning or the
play, he thoroughly believes in witchcraft and
that Betty’s sickness should be blamed on the
Devil. He interrogates anyone that could be
associated with witchcraft, claiming that he
knows all about spirits and demons. Reverend
Hale is one of the first to realize that the
accusations are getting out of hand, which is
evident in his nervous and guilty manner when
speaking with the Proctors. He feels
responsible for the entire situation because he
encouraged Tituba to confess. During the
trials in Act III, Hale tells the judges that, “there
is a prodigious fear of this court in the country”
(Miller Act III) and that if someone is
accused, they are not necessarily guilty. By Act
IV, Hale is going from jail cell to jail cell trying
to convince people to confess to being in
league with the Devil so they will not be
hanged. In most parts of the play, Hale acts
as a voice of reason, but no one is willing to
John Proctor is the protagonist, or
hero, of the play. He is a strong, strict
man, and “in Proctor’s presence a fool felt
his foolishness instantly” (Miller Act I).
Proctor is haunted by his affair with Abigail
Williams, and this guilt ultimately becomes
his undoing. Elizabeth Proctor, John
Proctor’s wife, knows that Abigail seeks
revenge on her, and when Abigail gains
power in the court, Elizabeth fears for her
freedom and asks John to sever any
relationship that he may have with Abigail.
John, however, is afraid to do so, because
not only will his reputation be slandered, but
committing adultery was against the
commandments. He eventually admits his
affair to everyone in the trials, and Abigail, of
course, denies it. He is convicted, being
accused of lying, and is sent to prison.
Elizabeth tries to convince him to confess so
that he will not be killed, telling him that it his
own decision. Proctor chooses not to
confess, which would be a lie, and is
Looking for: Started By: Opposed By:
Salem Witch Witches Abigail Parris Proctor
McCarthyism Communists McCarthy Murrow
War on Terror Terrorists Bush Powell
Are you starting to see similarities between each era? Though you may
not think so or notice it at first, each of these eras bear striking similarity.
In each case, there was a certain set of people being hunted out, an
enlightened few who presided, people who opposed the whole
thing, common interrogation tactics, and the reasoning that only the
people who are in charge know the whole truth.
In all cases, only those in power had full knowledge of the
situation. They silenced or eliminated anyone who opposed them or
threatened to uproot their power. During the trial of Bridget Bishop in
1692, Nathanial Saltonstall resigned from his post as a
judge, aghast at how the trials were turning out. During the War on
Terror, Secretary of State to the Bush Administration Colin Powell
resigned from his position because he didn’t support Bush’s war.
One newscaster and one of McCarthy’s associates, Don
Hollenbeck, committed suicide to escape from accusation during
General mainstream media manipulated people to all think alike.
Back in 1692, they didn’t have television, internet, or phones.
Instead, everything depended on court transcripts for
information, and these were written in a very biased, spiteful
matter. In 1950, it was mostly radio and news broadcasts. News
reporters were very influential and trusted. In McCarthy’s reply to
Murrow’s broadcast, he said “I do ask you and every American
who loves this country to join with me, against the communists.”
This made people feel like it was their duty to their country to
support McCarthy against communists.
In both the Salem Witch Trials & the era of McCarthyism, some
people were accused for no reason other than the fact that they
had something someone else wanted.
In both cases, those high in power were accused. They had
power, owned land, or were influential.
Salem: For example, in The instead of
Crucible, Thomas Putnam believed that land, it was
the Nurses' land was rightfully his, and something like
therefore put them under accusation to a high-stakes
further help him acquire it. Jealousy also job promotion.
played a role in Mrs. Putnam's
accusation, Abigail wanted Elizabeth out
of the picture because she was deluded
by the idea that she and John Proctor
were meant to be together.
In both cases, people accused others to be un-accused themselves. They were
stuck in a vicious circle of accusation and defense. The main point behind this was
that if you were afflicted by witchery, you yourself could not possibly be a witch.
Salem: Abigail and her friends were under suspicion, and accused others in turn to
become "clean" themself, becoming a "Weapon of God".
“After [Tituba] deny[ied] any guilt…she claimed that she was approached by
[Satan]…she declared she was a witch, and moreover she and four other
witches, including Good & Osborn, had flown through the air on their poles. She
had tried to run to Reverend Parris for counsel…but the devil had blocked her path.
Tituba’s confession succeeded in transforming her from a possible scapegoat to a
central figure in the expanding prosecutions.”
McCarthyism: If you were suspected as a communist, you could help
clear the blame from yourself by pretending to be a spy, giving the
government more names, more observations, to get other people under
the umbrella of doubt, and yourself in the clear. To prove to the House
Un-American Activities Committee (which in charge of Communism
interrogations) that you were innocent, you would name other people to
make yourself seem innocent.
"Luther himself was accused of alliance with hell, and he in turn accused his
enemies (Miller, p183)."
Lots of Power + Small Group of Individuals =
Salem: Just a small group, Abigail and her
friends, were in charge of deciding who was
guilty or not. Since they were the only ones
deciding upon other's innocence, they could
easily become corrupt [with power] and
could let jealousy and petty differences
preside, accusing those they hate and
letting others go free.
These examples show how a government system "pleads for checks and
McCarthyism: Just a small government
group was in charge of rooting out and
eliminating Communism. For example, in
Good Night, and Good Luck, in the case of
the military trial, only the army officials ruled
during the trial, so it wasn't a fair case, since
they were judging from a bias.
Fear of the unknown made people act irrationally
Salem: This was a very strict, religious, God-fearing community.
"...Today we would hardly call it a village...Salem had been established
hardly 40 years before. To the whole European world the whole province
was a barbaric frontier inhabited by a sect of fanatics...They had no
novelists-and would not have permitted anyone to read a novel if one
were handy. Their creed forbade anything resembling a theater or "vain
enjoyment". Therefore, they were afraid of everything new, weird, or
unknown. They actually believed that those accused were witches, and
in fear lent themselves to hysteria, trying to root out all signs of evil.
"Shroud your enemy in the unknown"
McCarthyism: The country was afraid of Russian infiltration,
and took no chances in rooting out Communism.
If a cloud of uncertainty fell upon your enemy, it was difficult
for them to become "clean" again unless they, in turn,
accused someone else.
A Country Divided
In 1692, you were either 100% with God, or in league with the devil.
For example, take John Proctor: he was put even further into suspicion
becuase it was noticed that he did not attend church regularly
"Diametrically In 1950, you were either 100% Patriotism
and for America, or you were suspected
as a communist.
Those who were in charge had to be respected absolutely, and anyone
who was skeptical or disbelieving and tried to denounce their word was
likewise accused. There were two parties, you were either part of one or
the other, there was no in-between. If you even showed a hint of
communist sympathy, or were supposedly seen at a meeting, you were
****ADD: p.182, after "Diametrically Opposed Absolutes" & p213, petitions
Salem: Anyone who may possibly be
affiliated with witchery was promptly
accused and arrested. If you attended a
questionable meeting, or read certain
books, or had “poppets”, it was seen as
McCarthyism: For example, in the newsroom scene, men who
may have ever done anything to put them under the suspicion
of Communism were asked to excuse themselves from working
on the news story, lest CBS be accused of protecting or
standing up for communism, because they were working on a
sensitive story and didn't want to appear to be for Communism.
Even reading a politically-incorrect newspaper would instantly
make you “guilty”.