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Analyzing The Crucible

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1 Analyzing The Crucible

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/society Godliness vs. Worldliness Justice vs. Vengeance Order vs. Individual Freedom Good vs Evil Power and Authority Ignorance vs. Wisdom

4 ...and they all have to do with:

5 Human Weaknesses: motifs
Lust, Guilt - John Proctor Selfish Pride - Reverend Hale, John Proctor Greed - Reverend Parris, Thomas Putnam Vengeance - Abigail Dishonesty - Abigail, the girls, John Proctor Hysteria – Mary, the girls Fear – Tituba

6 Human Strengths: motifs
Honesty – Elizabeth Proctor Loyalty – Elizabeth Proctor Courage – John Proctor Forgiveness – Elizabeth Proctor Faith – Rebecca Nurse Reason – 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 harm Thomas 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 society Church (moral) and state are the same Sin and status of an individual’s soul are of public concern Everyone 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 reason enables people to believe their neighbors are guilty of committing absurd and unbelievable crimes people become active in the hysterical climate for 2 reasons: out of genuine religious faithfulness chance 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 jailed Reverend 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 name Parris 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 Abigail at 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 absolute Conflict 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 Society The accusers were looking out for their own lives and took whatever actions necessary to save themselves Conformity – Human freedom vs social order There is either obedience or the church will burn like Hell is burning! Parris to Proctor I 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 play Elizabeth cannot tell a lie … but does to try to save John

16 Conflict Personal – 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” Danforth Crucible - 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.

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