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Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

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1 Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
A Criticism of Current Affairs & An Examination of History

2 Playwright’s Bio Arthur Miller was born in 1915 in New York City
He was the son of a coat manufacturer ruined by the Great Depression Attended college at the University of Michigan Married several times (Second wife was Marilyn Monroe)

3 Famous Works 1938- The Grass Still Grows
1944- The Man Who Had All the Luck (Theater Guild Award) 1945- Focus (a novel attacking Anti-Semitism) 1947- All My Sons (New York Drama Critic’s Award) 1949- Death of a Salesman (Pulitzer Prize winner and considered one of the greatest contemporary dramas) 1953- The Crucible (Tony Award)

4 The Crucible Ostensibly about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692
Used trial documents but fictionalized Combined, created or changed characters Major trial events are relatively accurate Really a criticism of the House Committee on Un-American Activities--McCarthyism

5 Makings of a Salem Witch Hunt
Salem was a village divided Land ownership disputes Dispute about reverend position & compensation People stubborn about deeply held beliefs Salem was repressed Expression of individual thoughts and desires frowned upon or even outlawed in a village governed by strict Theocracy Children to be seen not heard were particularly repressed Spark & Ignition A group of girls were caught playing at magic and pressured into naming those who bewitched them A special court was set up Spectral evidence was used

6 Makings of a Communist Hunt
WWII rise of Communist Party in the US Cold War becomes intense after USSR gains atomic power Conservatives in power Truman initiates disloyalty laws House of Un-American Activities Committee reinvigorated Investigates communist activity Alger Hiss and Rosenberg Cases Hollywood Blacklist & The Hollywood Ten McCarthy and his accusations Others pressured to name others as communists

7 Results of both Witch Hunts
Colonial Salem 20 innocent people were executed Dozens more were imprisoned One was stoned to death Families lost their land and livelihood 1950’s Hundreds unjustly lost their jobs 10 were jailed for 6 months to 2 years 1 was sentenced to 5 years in prison 2 were executed

8 Act 1 The Overture

9 What does the phrase “endless capacity for dissembling” tell us about Abigail?
She is extremely deceptive always question her reliability Search for a hidden motive in her words

10 Why does Abigail admit to dancing in the forest?
She knows Parris saw them It is a lesser offense than witchcraft She hopes this will satisfy him and prevent further questioning and/or an accusation of witchcraft

11 Function of forest at night
Practical function--makes sense that the girls would sneak into the forest at night so they wouldn’t be observed dancing. Atmospheric function—Salem in 1692 would be like a frontier outpost. Puritan inhabitants believed forest was a wild, dark place—the abode of heathens and evil spirits. Figurative function—represents all that makes their community vulnerable to physical and spiritual attack.

12 Parris’ character revealed when questioning Abigail
His ministry is at stake His reputation could be exposed to suspicion Doesn’t want to be blind-sided with info about her that others may have

13 Reverend Parris

14 hypocritical because he uses the church to justify his demands for money.

15 paranoid because he wonders if those who oppose him serve the devil and because he thinks Proctor is the leader of a plot.

16 arrogant because he believes that church members must obey the pastor or chaos will ensue.

17 Abigail’s spotless reputation
“OUT OUT damn spot” OR Abigail’s spotless reputation Claims there are no disparaging rumors about her character. Was discharged from Goody Proctor’s service. Goody Proctor rarely goes to church to avoid “sitting so close to something so soiled.” No one else in the village will hire her.

18 Abigail’s response Attacks Goody Proctor’s character but does not deny the existence of the remark. (so there is a rumor about her!—shifting blame) All the other women in the village are the same as Goody Proctor (so people do have doubts about her!—It’s everyone else’s fault) Tries to change subject and put Parris on defensive (Do you begrudge my bed, Uncle?—Even Parris’s fault) Calls Goody Proctor “a gossiping liar.” (Her answers, however, suggest she is the one lying)

19 Rev. Parris’ change of heart
Initially, doesn’t believe there to be any witchcraft in Salem. Putnam reminds him that he has taken Parris’ side in all contentious matters so far, but threatens to withdraw that support if Parris holds back in this matter. Everyone is always questioning his actions—which he doesn’t like—so he says that he is beginning to wonder if that is the work of the devil.

20 FYI In a written commentary on the play, Miller indicated that he considered Thomas Putnam one of the play’s principal villains. He notes that Putnam was vindictive, with many grievances against his neighbors. He had numerous complaints involving disputes over ownership of land. Miller notes that Putnam seems to have played a key role in the accusations of witchcraft. Some historians have concluded that the real Thomas Putnam used accusations of witchcraft as an excuse to gain land.

21 Reasons the Putnams believe the girls and Tituba are involved in witchcraft.
Their babies were murdered Ruth was close to conjuring up their spirits. Some power of darkness struck her dumb. A murdering witch is hiding among the people.

22 FYI Sneezing can occur when dust or pollen irritates the lining in the nasal passages. Congestion from colds or allergies can also force a person to sneeze. Ruth Putnam may have had a physical illness; however, superstition also held that sneezing might indicate that a possessed person was expelling demons through the nose. This may be the origin of the practice of saying “God bless you” when a person sneezes. It also probably is the reason Mercy suggests that sneezing may restore Ruth’s senses.

23 Will the real Abigail please stand up!!
With the adults gone, Abigail becomes the dominant personality, telling the other girls what to say, threatening them and insinuating her capacity for violence if they betray her.

24 To fake or not to fake or is something really wrong with Betty?
Responds when adults are out of room Knows that Abigail did not reveal everything about that night in the forest (drinking a charm to kill Goody Proctor)

25 Enter John Proctor Enter Abigail #3?

26 How is Abigail able to adapt her demeanor to suit her purposes?
With her uncle—feigns concern and righteous indignation With the girls—domineering and cruel With Proctor—coy and seductive

27 How does Miller use names to imply relationships?
The other girls say Mr. Proctor; Abigail calls him John. Her uncle always calls her Abigail; Proctor calls her Abby. This suggests an intimacy borne out in the flirtatious exchange of this act.

28 Who do you believe?

29 He admits he had reached for her in the past (but for what?)
To comfort her? To confide in her? Possibly more?

30 “Wipe it out of mind” Is this his way of telling her to pretend nothing ever happened or to forget about anything ever happening?

31 “We never touched, Abby.”
Physically? spiritually? Denial?

32 He does not deny having looked up
Was this at her window? If so, does this mean lust? OR Is he wondering if she’s okay?

33 Is John Proctor merely guilty of flirting with Abigail?
Or something more?

34 Does she exaggerate the seriousness of the relationship?
I am waitin’ for you every night, yet he hasn’t stepped off his farm in seven months. Is she obsessed with him?

35 FYI Puritans believed that you did not have to actually commit the act to be guilty of it. They thought that if you lusted in your heart, it was the same thing as committing adultery. Therefore, John Proctor could have considered himself guilty of cheating on his wife without ever having physically touched Abby.

36 How do the Putnams differ from Proctor and Rebecca on the issue of witchcraft?
Putnams seem determined to prove that witchcraft is afoot. Proctor and Rebecca believe there is a natural explanation for the children’s behavior.

37 Why might Ann Putnam hate Rebecca Nurse?
Ann Putnam has lost seven babies in infancy. Now her only surviving child is behaving strangely and is ill. Rebecca Nurse has 11 children and 26 grandchildren all of whom seem to be healthy. Rebecca Nurse was a midwife for Ann Putnam.

38 FYI In his commentary on the play, Miller describes Rebecca and Francis Nurse as people highly respected for their moral character, good judgment, and success. He notes that, before the arrival of Parris, the Nurses and their friends had blocked the appointment of a minister supported by the Putnams. Political differences also were leading to conflicts between the Nurses’ friends and the town authorities allied with the Putnams.

39 Sagacious Advice “I think she’ll wake in time. Pray calm yourselves. I have eleven children, and I am twenty-six times a grandma, and I have seen them all through their silly seasons, and when it come on them they will run the Devil bowlegged keeping up with their mischief. I think she’ll wake when she tires of it. A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back.”

40 More Wise Advice “Mr. Parris, I think you’d best send Reverend Hale back as soon as he come. This will set us all to arguin’ again in the society, and we thought to have peace this year. I think we ought rely on the doctor now, and good prayer.” “No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another kind, John. Clasp his hand, make your peace.”

41 The Conflicts

42 Abigail and Mrs. Proctor
Goody Proctor fired her. Abigail is infatuated with John Proctor and believes he loves her. Mrs. Proctor’s death would clear the way for marriage between them.

43 Abigail vs. John Proctor
He denies he ever gave her any reason to hope for there to be anything between them. She thinks she loves him and wants to be his wife.

44 John Proctor vs. Rev. Parris
Demands the deed to his house Wastes the church money on extravagant furnishings Preaches hellfire and damnation w/o mentioning God’s name

45 The Putnams vs. The Nurses
The Nurses own land that the Putnams covet Rebecca Nurse has never lost a child nor grandchild, while Mrs. Putnam has lost all but one of her children The Nurses opposed the Putnams’ choice for a minister

46 John Proctor vs Elizabeth Proctor
The relationship between the Proctors is strained. Elizabeth is suspicious of John. Elizabeth has been sick for a long time. John Proctor confessed a sin to her. They don’t talk much. She is not an affectionate wife.

47 Irony

48 “…the world goes mad, and it profit nothing you should lay the cause to the vengeance of a little girl” while he suggests that it is foolish to blame what has happened on the vengeance of a little girl, the audience knows that is the precise cause.

49 “I do not preach for children…It is not the children who are unmindful of their obligations toward this ministry,” Parris sees no reason to instruct the children about God, yet it is the young girls who are trying to commune with the devil and in an effort to conceal their misbehavior, they set in motion the events that will destroy Salem.

50 “What victory would the Devil have to win a soul already bad
“What victory would the Devil have to win a soul already bad? It is the best the Devil wants, and who is better than a minister?” Hale makes the assumption that the minister must be the best person in the village, but the facts show that Parris is not a good man.

51 “You are God’s instrument put in our hands to discover the Devil’s agents among us…”
Instead of saving the village from the Devil, he is persuading her to make false accusations of witchcraft against innocent people.

52 Authority The authority of the church is supreme and if church members don’t obey the minister, chaos will ensue, and the church will be destroyed. Reverend Parris Reverend Hale

53 Authority Individual conscience is the final authority, and every church member has the right to say what he believes. John Proctor

54 Hale’s visit reveals John Proctor rarely attends church
One of their children is not baptized John Proctor cannot say all of his commandments Proctor doesn’t like Parris Elizabeth and Proctor do not believe that witches are among them

55 John Proctor as the voice of reason
Points out to Mary that not being able to say her commandments does not make Goody Good a witch “It’s strange work for a Christian girl to hang old women.” “It’s hard to think so pious a woman be secretly a Devil’s bitch after seventy year of such good prayer.” In response to Hale’s argument that those who have been convicted of witchcraft have confessed to it, he says, “And why not, if they must hang for denyin’ it?” Wonders if the court will believe his story when Hale doubts Elizabeth.

56 The charges For the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam’s babies For bewitching Walcott’s pigs For sending her spirit to stick a needle in Abigail Williams Rebecca Nurse Martha Corey Elizabeth Proctor

57 “My wife is the very brick and mortar of the church”
Francis Nurse was saying that his wife is the material of which Salem’s religious community is built and the substance that holds it together.

58 “Your justice would freeze beer.”
Hyperbole used to characterize Elizabeth as unforgiving and cold.

59 “What victory would the devil have to win a soul already bad?”
Foreshadows the eventual charges against respectable citizens.

60 “There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships.” Hale defending the witch trials when Rebecca Nurse is arrested.

61 “I cannot think the Devil may own a woman’s soul when she keeps an upright way.”
Represents Elizabeth Proctor’s view about the charges of witchcraft.

62 “I cannot sleep for dreamin’; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you comin’ through some door.” Demonstrates Abigail’s obsession with John Proctor.

63 “We are only what we always were, but naked now
“We are only what we always were, but naked now. And the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow!” People are either virtuous or they are not. It doesn’t matter whether their true nature is secret or common knowledge; God knows.

64 “Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your hands of this!”
allusion By doing nothing to stop it, Hale is guilty of whatever happens to the accused people, and God will eventually hold him accountable!

65 “I have three children—how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?”
A person must set a good example not only with words but also with deeds.

66 “…A fire is burning. I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face
“…A fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud—God damns our kind especially, and we will burn together!” When you know someone is committing a wrong, but you don’t do anything about it, you are more guilty than the person who committed the wrong. God will surely punish you accordingly.

67 Proctor reveals Abigail’s motivation in seeing his wife condemned.
“She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance, and you must see it.” Proctor reveals Abigail’s motivation in seeing his wife condemned.

68 Hale realizes his part in the witch trials
“Let you not mistake your duty as I mistook my own. I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up.” Hale realizes his part in the witch trials and is trying to convince Elizabeth to compel Proctor to confess

69 Giles Corey’s charge against Thomas Putnam
Giles Corey is condemned for giving evidence that is hearsay, while equally invalid evidence is used to condemn persons for witchcraft.

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