GCSE – The Crucible – Notes on the Assignment titles

The significance of the crucible title:

Define what a crucible is; how is it applicable to the events in Salem (tested and found either pure or wanting); why did Miller use the title – his own experiences; now discuss the characters who were tested and ‘found their goodness’ though they had to die for it they would not give in… and those who under testing gave in and either blamed others or confessed; still others took the opportunity to get even over small petty wrongs etc so those who died were ultimately the ones who found their purity, all those who survived even Elizabeth and Hale had not been strong enough to stand up to the hysteria and unfounded accusations.

John a hero?

Not at the start – why not? Abi and his relationship with Elizabeth, also his lack of regular attendance at church etc. his treatment of Mary Warren

Why did Miller relate most to Proctor? His own experiences. NB Miller changed the historical details quite significantly about this why? So why did Miller want Proctor to be this kind of man?

What factors changed Proctor’s mind and attitude? E’s accusation, his guilt, his horror at what Abi had unleashed and its potential. His disgust at the abuse of the church’s power. Could no longer stay silent – which is Miller’s central message about what can happen if we turn a blind eye.

How does he change? Admits his lechery; then calls the court and its officials and proceedings a charade; is amazed that Eliz chooses to lie for him realises she does love him; refuses to confess, then changes his mind – why? Then tears up confession – why?

Hero because?… sacrifice…

Characters who change or don’t.

Look at notes above for crucible appropriate title – discuss the reasons which came about for the changes, social factors, historical, cultural, religious, also discuss Miller’s own experiences and why he felt motivated to write the play. He wanted to explore the reasons why human history is littered with appalling incidents like these and why we let them happen. What is it about human nature that often wont stand up and be counted in objection to some form of abuse of power. (look at Guantanamo Bay in our era!!)

Who changes: John Proctor, Elizabeth P; Giles; all these for the better – Hale – for better and worse, not so arrogant or convinced of the infallibility of the trials or religious knowledge but a broken man for reasons of his guilt.

But not Rebecca, (the only totally pure soul the whole time), the Putnams, Abigail, Parris or the judges who despite perhaps inner misgivings daren’t let Proctor show the trials to be the travesty they are.

The play is a study in human motivation.

Read the above and crucible significant title notes; also refer to Miller’s own experiences and Senator McCarthy’s motives…

Discuss who has motives in the play: bring in the social, historical and cultural background.

Parris wants power and security; Putnam land and power; his wife wants revenge; Abi wants revenge and power over all those who have slighted her; Danforth and Hathorne want to retain their power; but also John Proctor is motivated by his love for Elizabeth, his guilt and finally his desire to do what is right. Elizabeth is motivated by her feelings of inadequacy and lack of worth but eventually by her need to show John that she does love him.

The Crucible – Factors which contributed to the hysteria in Salem; which made it possible for the events to happen

  1. Jealousy:

    Putnam of Proctor (among others ) over land, of Parris for his position of influence and for not being ‘his’ man

    Ann Putnam of Rebecca Nurse (midwife) because she lost 7 babies and Rebecca has many.

    of his new wife’s learning

    of Elizabeth Proctor because of John

    The miserable
    of the happy e.g. the Putnams.

    Those that go to church
    versus those that don’t and get away with it!

    of Proctor for his valued integrity and status as an honest man in the community.

  2. Prejudice and hatred due to ignorance:Putnam and Mary Warren of Sarah Good and Goody Osburn
    Tituba of Rev Parris
  3. Vindictiveness:Putnam for previous ministers, one of whom he had jailed for debts, and because of his father’s will which saw him left less than his brother.
  4. Fear:of the land, forest, climate, Indians and of their own baser nature.
  5. Snobbery:Putnams think they’re better than others

    Parris thinks he’s better than everyone else in the community

    just thinks she can get away with it because the others fear her!

  6. Love of minding each other’s business:Cheever of Proctor ‘he plough on Sunday’
  7. Guilt of own sins of:lust for someone else’s husband or wife, resentment of the power of the church, of its restrictions

Their hatred of each other was palpable in the community. The only time they banded together was against a common enemy, so divide and rule was a perfect method for Abigail here. Because they were always afraid it was easy to transfer their fears onto softer targets particularly if they had any sort of grudge against them or feared them. Divide and rule: they see that the best way to deflect attention away from themselves is to accuse someone else first.