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The Crucible by Arthur Miller 1953 A witch hunt and an allegory.

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1 The Crucible by Arthur Miller 1953 A witch hunt and an allegory

2 The title Crucible Noun 1. a vessel of metal used for heating substances to high temperatures. 2. A severe, searching test

3 Historical Context 17 th Century East Coast America 1600s Puritans settled on the East coast of the United States.

4 Historical Context They had been persecuted in their native England, but they created a theocracy and eventually persecuted others. Self-denial Prayer Purposefulness Hard work Suspicion of vain pursuits Hard-handed justice

5 What was at stake? Land Reputations Power Lives

6 How did it start? In 1692, several girls in the village of Salem, Massachusetts became intrigued when a West Indian servant told them stories of magic and voodoo from her native land.

7 One girl, 10 year old Betty Parris, slipped into unconsciousness when her father caught them dancing in the woods. She wouldn’t wake up, and this started the discussion of witchcraft. To avoid punishment, the girls created the story of the “witches” who made them dance and conjure the spells. One girl, 10 year old Betty Parris, slipped into unconsciousness when her father caught them dancing in the woods. She wouldn’t wake up, and this started the discussion of witchcraft. To avoid punishment, the girls created the story of the “witches” who made them dance and conjure the spells.

8 Misogyny and Distrust of Women Most of those accused of being witches were women. Most of those accused of being witches were women. Many were healers, and used plants to heal people. Many were healers, and used plants to heal people. Many were without family, and this made them easy targets. Many were without family, and this made them easy targets. They were people who did not fit in with the mainstream for some reason. They were people who did not fit in with the mainstream for some reason.

9 Spectral Evidence One of the ways most witches were accused was with the use of “spectral evidence.” If someone said they had seen the accused with the devil in a dream, or that the accused had visited them in the night, or had hurt them, it was taken as evidence that the devil was at work.

10 How did it escalate? It began as a way for the oppressed girls to avoid being punished. It then became an ideal way to get revenge on anyone whom you disliked. People started accusing their neighbours of being witches so they could steal their farmland. Authorities needed to exercise their power and control

11 Consequences 20 executed 20 executed Between 175 to 200 Between 175 to 200 imprisoned imprisoned

12 20 th Century Context Arthur Miller, one of America’s most famous playwrights, lived during the 1950s and experienced the Communist hysteria of the era. People thought their were Commies everywhere, and one man, Senator Joseph McCarthy, made it his personal mission to find Communists and destroy their lives by bringing them before the HOUSE COMMITTEE on UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES [HUAC]

13 HUAC Formed in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties. In 1947, the committee held nine days of hearings into alleged communist propaganda and influence in the Hollywood motion picture industry.

14 Arthur Miller’s Message The Crucible was Arthur Miller’s way of protesting the House Unamerican Activities Committee hearings. He compared the Communist hearings to the witch hunts of Salem, where gossip, rumours, and fear were evidence enough to convict people. The Crucible was Arthur Miller’s way of protesting the House Unamerican Activities Committee hearings. He compared the Communist hearings to the witch hunts of Salem, where gossip, rumours, and fear were evidence enough to convict people. The term “witch hunt” now applies to any activity where people are looking for a scapegoat or where they are using accusations to get revenge or to get personal gain or attention. The term “witch hunt” now applies to any activity where people are looking for a scapegoat or where they are using accusations to get revenge or to get personal gain or attention.

15 Arthur Miller wants us to QUESTION QUESTION The status quo The power structures and The authorities who govern us Individual freedom vs Society Order

16 In depth study Characters Themes Language Structure Staging Film version

17 Hale Act Two p68 ‘….though our hearts break, we cannot flinch; these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court – the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!’

18 BIG IDEAS ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Lord Acton [ ]


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