2 Themes The central idea or underlying meaning of a literary work Typically deals with an abstract concept that is made concrete through representation in character, action, and image.
3 Themes in the Crucible Human cruelty in the name of righteousness The Individual vs. Community/societyGodliness vs. WorldlinessJustice vs. VengeanceOrder vs. Individual FreedomGood vs EvilPower and AuthorityIgnorance vs. Wisdom
5 Human Weaknesses: motifs Lust, Guilt - John ProctorSelfish Pride - Reverend Hale, John ProctorGreed - Reverend Parris, Thomas PutnamVengeance - AbigailDishonesty - Abigail, the girls, John ProctorHysteria – Mary, the girlsFear – Tituba
6 Human Strengths: motifs Honesty – Elizabeth ProctorLoyalty – Elizabeth ProctorCourage – John ProctorForgiveness – Elizabeth ProctorFaith – Rebecca NurseReason – Rebecca Nurse
7 Revenge/Vengeance Abigail gets revenge for feeling scorned The girls and the accusers were naming people whom they did not like and wanted to harmThomas Putnam gains revenge on Francis Nurse by getting Rebecca, his wife, convicted of murdering his (and Ann Putnam’s) babies (land)Parris seeks revenge against those who do not respect his authority as minister
8 Intolerance Church (moral) and state are the same a theocratic societyChurch (moral) and state are the sameSin and status of an individual’s soul are of public concernEveryone belongs to either God or the devil“a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it.” (Danforth, Act III)
9 Hysteria the role that hysteria can play in tearing apart a community. replaces logic and reasonenables people to believe their neighbors are guilty of committing absurd and unbelievable crimespeople become active in the hysterical climate for 2 reasons:out of genuine religious faithfulnesschance to act on long-held grudges
10 How do these characters thrive on hysteria? Abigail: uses situation to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft and has her jailedReverend Parris: strengthens his position within the village (temporarily) by making scapegoats of those who question authority, like John Proctor
11 Reputation Extremely important in theocratic Salem Guilt by association: their sins will taint your nameParris fears Abigail’s questionable behavior and hints of witchcraft surrounding Betty will threaten and force him from the pulpit.
12 John Proctor - early in the play – has a chance to stop the girl’s accusations but his desire to preserve his reputation keeps him from testifying against Abigailat the play’s end – desire to keep his good name prevents him from a false confession“I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (Proctor to Danforth in Act IV)
13 Power and Authority Bible is the ultimate authority Authority of the Court is absoluteConflict of authority - Danforth felt the law should be followed exactly, and that anyone who opposed the trials was trying to undermine him and his authority and the church.The girls and some women are empowered by the trials
14 Individual Vs SocietyThe accusers were looking out for their own lives and took whatever actions necessary to save themselvesConformity – Human freedom vs social orderThere is either obedience or the church will burn like Hell is burning! Parris to ProctorI speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it
15 Truth and Lies Puritan Ethics meant most people abhorred lying Abigail lies all the way through the playElizabeth cannot tell a lie … but does to try to save John
16 ConflictPersonal – John wrestling with his own guilt at the beginning and Hale wrestling with his guilt at the end.Interpersonal (Proctor vs Parris – John is honest (`I see no light of God in that man. I'll not conceal it') and (`I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby‘)Impersonal – “Landgrabbing” was practiced by many
17 The Title: The Crucible a trial that ultimately reveals a person's true character‘a melting pot“We burn a hot fire here. It melts down all concealment” DanforthCrucible - it is meant to purify, usually by fire. A great irony since the 'fire' that burns in Salem does not purify. Instead it muddles (confuses) and corrupts. Thus a fire burning for the wrong reason is not able to purify.