The crucible powerpoint

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The crucible powerpoint

  1. 1. Creating and Presenting<br />
  2. 2. Historical Background: About the Playwright<br />Arthur Miller (1915-2005) was a lifelong defender of artists, whom he believed to have a social role to be politically critical and to challenge public ideas. He is famous for being the husband of Marilyn Munroe and being a prolific writer, whose best known plays, Death of a Salesman (1949)and The Crucible (1953) have been made into feature films and are still performed all over the world. Throughout his life he was persecuted for his views. The American context in which Miller wrote is the crucial basis for our understanding of this play’s universal message about the fragility of society.<br />
  3. 3. Historical Background: 1950s America and the Cold War<br />After WW11 ended in 1945 with nuclear bombs a terrible reality, an arms race began between the Soviet Union (under Stalin) and the United States. Instead of a ‘hot war’ (with soldiers and weapons on the ground), the ‘cold war’ scenario played out with espionage, weapons research and aggressive diplomatic rhetoric.<br />President F.D Roosevelt proposed the ‘New Deal’ economic programs which were considered ‘communistic’ by some conservatives.<br />The FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, worked for their vision of a right-wing society through arousing anxieties about a foreign menace, targeting dissidents and former members of the Communist Party of America, deliberately eroding the traditional liberal tolerance of diverse views.<br />
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  5. 5. Historical Background: House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) <br />The congressional committee formed in 1938 as the Dies Committee, to investigate allegations of Communist infiltration into the American administration, developed into its more sinister permanent form as HUAC in 1945. Supported by the high-profile views of Senator Joseph McCarthy (whose name has become synonymous with ‘McCarthyist’ witch-hunting), HUAC was very active in the 1950s and 1960s.<br />HUAC claimed to be weeding out unseen enemies of America, including Communist ‘fellow-travellers’ – people tainted simply by association. A network of informers, moles and double agents came into being, and people under interrogation were encouraged to name others.<br />
  6. 6. Historical Background: HUAC, Miller and The Crucible.<br />Anyone might be suspect, under the HUAC regime, including artists such as the ‘Hollywood Seven’, a group of blacklisted actors, writers and directors. Miller was also victimised and had his passport cancelled for some time.<br />The Crucible’s first audiences and critics inevitably made the connection between the Washington HUAC hearings and Salem’s witch-hunt. <br />Miller draws another sinister parallel:<br />“in almost every case the Committee [HUAC] knew in advance what they wanted the witness to give them: the names of his comrades in the [Communist] Party. The FBI had long since infiltrated the Party, and informers had long ago identified the participants in various meetings...The main point of the hearings, precisely as in seventeenth century Salem, was that the accused make a public confession, damn his confederates as well as his Devil master, and guarantee his sterling new allegiance by breaking disgusting old vows – whereupon he was let loose to rejoin the society of extremely decent people.” <br />
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  8. 8. Historical Background: Salem 1692, Puritans and Quakers.<br />Salem, Massachussets, in 1692 was a small settlement in the far north east of the USA. The village and town settlements were two groups of pioneers going through a transition period. Inevitably, disagreements about property and other rights, including Salem Village having their own congregation, caused ill-feeling , as did conflicting ideas about religious practice.<br />The Puritans and the Quakers were two breakaway groups from High Church Christianity. The Puritans, who made up the majority of the Salem population, had authoritarian view, based on a strict interpretation of the Bible and Ten Commandments. The Quakers, meanwhile, look for God in every person, they engage in practical good works, maintain integrity in commerce and are pacifists.<br />
  9. 9. Map of Salem in 1692<br />
  10. 10. Conflict Within The Crucible<br />Conflict, in Miller’s play, is the inevitable result of belonging in Salem’s strained moral and social dynamics.<br />Cosmic Conflict: God versus the Devil<br /><ul><li>“Let you counsel among yourselves; think on your village and what may have drawn from heaven such thundering wrath upon you all.” (Hale, p. 73)
  11. 11. The seventeenth-century Puritan worldview saw the battle between God and the Devil for Christian souls as a reality. They believed the vigilant Christian should take this conflict as a given, and make sure they took every measure to protect their own souls. As Miller points out, this is still not an uncommon belief today for many people, it is hugely influential in thinking about world events , and it requires careful examination as a reality-shaping idea. </li></li></ul><li>Internal Conflict: John Proctor<br />As one of the central characters, John Proctor represents ideas about conflict in the mind. He is initially conflicted by the guilt he feels for committing adultery with Abigail. His actions with her go against his religion, his own morals and blemish the love he has for his wife. He is later conflicted by his decision to absolve himself through the Puritan system to publicly confess and perform an act of penance, or instead keep his personal pride by not allowing any public confession of his guilt.<br />
  12. 12. Conflict of Ideals: Reason vs. Hysteria<br />One of the major conflicts in the play is between the reason of the human mind and the irrational fear of hysteria. Several characters try to use reason throughout the trials, yet Miller uses the reasoning of the courts to show the madness of those blinded by process. This absurdity is shown through Deputy Governor Danforth’s summary of the witch trials. He explains that because witchcraft is an invisible crime, only the witch and her victim can possibly witness the crime, and the witch would never accuse herself. Therefore, the victim’s testimony must always be accurate. As a result of this absurd reasoning, the Puritans had no way of objectively finding out the truth.<br />
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  14. 14. Conflict between the individual and the state <br />Salem’s ruling theocracy forces citizens to deny their consciences and perjure themselves in order to save their own lives. The majority comply, but a few heroic figures resist. <br />
  15. 15. Conflict within the community <br />The accusations of witchcraft provide a smokescreen behind which simmering factional interests are exploited. Citizens use the accusations of witchcraft to gain vengeance, property or status.<br />
  16. 16. Conflict between husband and wife <br />The tensions between John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth are ultimately resolved in the face of the larger threat that confronts them. Both must make difficult decisions about loyalty and morality.<br />
  17. 17. Discussion Questions<br />• The Salem theocracy has been established by mutual consent for the material and ideological protection of the society. Why does this form of government, by its nature, provoke such conflict? <br />• Does the sacrifice of those who die ultimately achieve anything? Are principles, ‘however glorious’ they may be, always worth dying for? <br />• To what extent does the conflict in The Crucible create heroes and villains? <br />
  18. 18. Further Discussion Questions<br />What does The Crucible tell us about the way in which people react to conflict? <br />• Are the people of Salem particularly vulnerable to conflict? <br />Can you think of any more recent ‘witch-hunts’ that parallel the conflicts that arose in Salem in the 17th century and the America of the 1950s? Similarities? Differences? <br />
  19. 19. Prompts<br />1 ‘Conflicts from history can teach us many things about ourselves and the times in which we live.’ <br />2 ‘Conflict can reveal unexpected qualities in an individual.’ <br />3 ‘The prime instigator of conflict is fear.’ <br />4 ‘Social order can deteriorate into conflict and anarchy with disturbing ease.’ <br />5 ‘An individual’s ability to deal with conflict is determined by their self-knowledge.’ <br />6 ‘Why conflict occurs is less important than how it affects people.’ <br />7 ‘It is through conflict that we grow.’ <br />

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