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The Crucible by: Arthur Miller

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1 The Crucible by: Arthur Miller
Act I

2 Literary Elements: Atmosphere
What nouns describe the atmosphere at the very beginning? fear terror superstition mystery

3 Drawing Conclusions Find the phrase, “an endless capacity for dissembling.” What does it tell the reader about Abigail? Abigail deceives others. Her reliability is questionable. There is a hidden motive in her words.

4 Literary Elements: Setting
What function does the forest serve? The girls go there to hide their dancing. It also serves as an atmospheric function. To the Puritans, the forest was a wild, dark place—the abode of heathens and evil spirits.

5 Theme The idea of a person’s good name will be a central theme to the play. Find where Abigail discusses her good name in Act I. Abigail: “My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled.” What is she willing to do to protect her name?

6 Enter the Putnams What adjectives would you use to describe Rev. Parris’s attitude toward the Putnams. He seems fearful, flattering, submissive, and groveling. Why? The Putnams seem to have influence over people in Salem.

7 Thomas Putnam Thomas Putnam is one of the play’s principal antagonists. Why? He is vindictive, has many grievances against his neighbors, and is involved in disputes ownership of land. Seems to have played a key role in the accusations of witchcraft.

8 Cultural Note Superstition holds that sneezing might indicate that a possessed person was expelling demons through the nose. This might be the origin of the practice of saying “God bless you!”

9 Abigail Describe the change in Abigail’s behavior after the adults leave Ruth’s bedroom. She reveals a cruel side to her nature in the way she treats the other girls. With the adults gone, Abigail is able to become the dominant personality and reveal her true nature. Is her attitude here believable? Why or why not?

10 Literary Elements: Figurative Language
Find the line, “What a grand peeping courage you have!” Speaker? Circumstance? Double meaning: The act of looking cautiously or sneakily. The weak sound of a newborn bird, especially a chicken. This is an example of scorn for Mary Warren’s courage.

11 PREDICT “You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor.” Speaker? Why might Abigail want John Proctor’s wife dead? Revenge over being fired. Revenge about rumors being spread. Romantic notions towards John Proctor.

12 Literary Elements: Characterization
“Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.” What do Abigail’s threats toward the other girls reveal about her character? She has witnessed the brutal murder of her parents and suggests that she is, herself, capable of violence.

13 Evaluate Evaluate the offhand way Abigail describes events to Proctor in light of what we know about her character. She illustrates her ability to adapt her manner to suit a situation. With her uncle, she pretends concern and righteous indignation. With the girls, she is domineering and cruel. With Proctor, she is coy and seductive.

14 Plot What is revealed about the central conflict in the conversation between Abigail and John Proctor? The conflict between Abigail and Mrs. Proctor: Abigail’s motivation is now known. There was a romantic link between her and John, which is why Mrs. Proctor dismissed her. Abigail believes John loves her. Mrs. Proctor’s death would clear the way for marriage between them. The conflict between Abigail and John: He denies that he ever gave her reason to believe there was hope for marriage.

15 Literary Elements Character
How the Putnams differ from John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse on the issue of witchcraft? The Putnams seem determined to prove that witchcraft is afoot. Proctor and Rebecca believe there is a natural explanation for the children’s behavior.

16 Think Critically Why might Ann Putnam hate Rebecca Nurse?
Ann already has mentioned that she has lost seven babies in infancy. Now her only surviving child is behaving strangely and is ill. Rebecca has eleven children and twenty-six grandchildren, all of whom seem to be healthy.

17 Characterization Notice how Proctor is very vocal about his displeasure with Parris’s actions, but allows Rebecca to silence him. What does this show about Proctor’s character? Rebecca Nurse? His reaction clearly reveals that he respects her. The fact that a man like Proctor will defer to her is testament to Rebecca’s wisdom and strength of character. Rebecca is the “voice of reason” in the play.

18 How is this statement ironic given what we know already in the play?
Irony – referring to how a person, situation, statement, or circumstance is not as it would actually seem Parris: “I do not preach for children, Rebecca. It is not the children who are unmindful of their obligation toward this ministry.” How is this statement ironic given what we know already in the play? Parris has little understanding of children and sees no reason to instruct them, yet it is the young girls who are trying to commune with the devil. In an effort to conceal their misbehavior, they set in motion events that will wreak havoc on Salem.

19 Summary Summarize the argument between Rev. Parris and John Proctor.
Parris argues that the authority of the church is supreme. Church members must obey the pastor or chaos will ensue. Proctor argues that individual conscience is the final authority. Every church member has the right to say what he believes.

20 Irony Parris: “Why would he choose my house to strike? We have all manner of licentious people in the village!” Hale: “It is the best the Devil wants, and who is better than the minister?” What is ironic here? Parris asks why the devil would choose his house when there are so many less worthy people in Salem. He does not recognize this own lack of good character. Hale’s question assumes that the minister must be the best person in the village, an assumption at odds with the facts.

21 Thinking Critically Who is the first person to name specific individuals? Thomas Putnam What can you infer from this? Sarah Good and Osburn are people whom the Putnams do not like or against whom the Putnams have grievances.

22 Irony Hale: “You are God’s instrument put in our hands to discover the Devil’s agents among us. You are selected, Tituba, you are chosen to help us cleanse our village.” Identify the irony. He tells Tituba that she is God’s instrument doing his work and helping cleanse the village. In reality, he is persuading her to make false accusations of witchcraft against innocent people.

23 Responding to Literature
How does Tituba first respond to Hale’s accusation of witchcraft? How does she change her response? Why might she, as well as Abigail and Betty, make accusations at the end of Act 1? At first Tituba denies any dealings with the devil. She later says that the devil tempted her and showed her others who were in his service. They might hope to avoid punishment by accusing others.

24 Responding to Literature
What is the overall atmosphere, or prevailing mood, of Act 1? How does Miller create this atmosphere? Terror, suspense, mystery, tension. Miller creates the atmosphere through the fears expressed by the characters or through the underlying tension and mistrust that runs through the dialogue.

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