American Literature: Witch trials (The Crucible)

Who is the author of the Crucible?
Arthur Miller

What are the main topics or ideas in the Crucible?
Puritanism + Witchcraft + McCarthyism + Arthur Miller

What is Puritanism
-originated in England during early 1600s
-believes in Predestination
-split from Church of England in 1633 -> emigrated to America

What did people in Salem believe?
-believed in witches and witchcraft (just like Puritans)

What was Salem’s idea on Witchcraft?
-“entering into a compact with the devil in exchange for certain powers to do evil”
-a sin and a crime; a serious accusation, which was carefully investigated

When did Witchcraft start?
-began in Salem, Massachusetts in early 1692

How did Witchcraft start?
-Reverend Samuel Parris’s daughter and Abigail Williams: started having fits of convulsion, screaming, and hallucination
-doctor concluded -> witchcraft

How did Witchcraft spread?
-published a book with detailed symptoms of witchcraft
-Puritans quickly believed doctor’s diagnosis

Who were the first to be accused of witchcraft?
Tituba (Parris’ slave), Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn

How long did this last?
8 months-year

How many people were imprisoned for witchcraft?
more than 150 people

How many people were convicted?
27 people

How many people were hanged for witchcraft?
19 people

How many person(s) were pressed to death?
1 person; Giles Corey (September 19, 1692)

What does the hysteria of witchcraft reveal?
How deep the belief in the supernatural ran in colonial America

What is McCarthyism?
the term used to describe a period of intense suspicion in the US during early 1950s

How did McCarthyism begin?
Senator Joseph McCarthy, a U.

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S. senator from Wisconsin, claimed communists had infiltrated the Department of State-> special House Committee on Un-American Activities: formed to investigate allegations of communism

What happened during the period of McCarthyism?
People from all walks of life became subjects of aggressive “witch hunts” often based on inconclusive, questionable evidence

What happened to people who were accused of being communists?
-denied employment in both public and private sector
-example: film industry, over 300 actors, writers and directors were denied work in U.S. (Arthur Miller-> “blacklisted”)

How did McCarthy’s ideas falter?
-when CBS newsman, Edward R. Murrow, aired an investigative news report revealed McCarthy as dishonest in speeches and abusive in his interrogation of witnesses
-public was aware of how McCarthy ruined reputations of individuals through false accusations of communism

When was Arthur Miller born and when did he die?

What did Arthur Miller do for his career?
American Playwright and Writer

What did Arthur Miller write in 1953?
The Crucible; uses Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 to attack the anti-communist “witch hunts” of the 1950s

What did Arthur Miller believe about witchcraft and McCarthyism?
-witchcraft paralleled the climate of McCarthyism- Senator Joseph McCarthy’s obsessive quest to uncover communist party infiltration of American institutions

What did Miller do after he published the book?
He investigated for possible associations with the communist party

What was Miller found guilty for and why?
He was found guilty of contempt of court because refused to share information regarding his colleagues -> later overturned

Who is Abigail Williams?
-orphaned niece of Reverend Parris who once was the mistress of John Proctor but was turned out when his wife found out
-jealous of Elizabeth Proctor and couldn’t let go of her obsession with Proctor
-leader of the girls

Who is John Proctor?
-Husband to Elizabeth
-had an affair with Abigail when she was employed in his house
-knows the girls are pretending but cannot tell what he knows without revealing having been alone with Abigail

Who is Elizabeth Proctor?
-wife of John Proctor
-discovers an affair going between her husband and Abigail Williams -> throws her out of their house

Who is Tituba?
-servant to Parris household from Barbados
-enlisted by Ruth Putnam and Abigail to cast spells and create charms
-once turned in by Abigail (tried saving herself) -> T confesses to all and saves herself

Who is Reverend Parris?
-pastor of the church in Salem
-father of Betty and uncle of Abigail Williams
-believes that he is being persecuted and that the townspeople do not respect his position as a man of God

Who is Deputy Governor Danforth?
-seems to feel particularly strongly that the girls are honest
-sensitive to the presence of the devil and reacts explosively to whatever evidence is presented

Who is Betty Parris?
-daughter of Reverend, cousin to Abigail Williams
-weak girl who goes along with her cousin as soon as she is threatened

Who is Susanna Walcott?
-sent between Parris and Dr. Griggs to determine the cause of Betty’s ailment
-easily guided by Abigail

Who is Mercy Lewis?
-Servant to the Putnam household
-merciless girl who seems to delight in the girls’ activities

Who is Mary Warren?
-Servant to Proctor household
-Abigail uses her to effectively accuse Elizabeth
-John takes Mary to the court to confess that the girls are only pretending
-not strong enough to stand up to Abigail and her friends-> accuses Proctor

What is the definition of drama?
a form of literature that is written to be performed before an audience

What is a tragedy?
unveiled the downfall of a main character in a serious tone

What is a comedy?
light and often humorous

What is a plot?
the chain of related events that make up the story

What is the plot consisted of?
-a series of acts that are made up of scenes

What is the setting of a story?
the time and place of the story

What are characters?
individuals who participate in the action

What is dialogue?
the conversation between characters

What is the protagonist in a story?
central character of a play; deeply involved in the conflict and may change because of it

What is the antagonist in a story?
a major character who opposes the protagonist

What is a foil?
a minor character who contrasts in personality with the protagonist

What is a conflict?
a struggle between opposing forces

What is the theme?
the central message the writer wants to share with an audience

What is a cast of characters?
a list of characters presented before the action starts

What are stage directions?
-italicized instructions that identify the setting
-suggest the use of props, lighting, scenery, sound effects, and costumes
-describe who characters look, speak, move and react
-provide background information

What is the exposition of a story?
an introduction; establishes conflict
EXAMPLE: Several girls from Salem have been playing with witchcraft in the forest with the slave Tituba. They seem to be bewitched, and accuse Tituba and several others of consorting with the devil

What is the rising action of the story?
complications; actions that lead to the crisis
EXAMPLE: The witch hunt escalated, and several women are tried for witchcraft and hung.

What is the conflict of the story?
EXAMPLE: between the Salem townspeople and the people accused of being witches

What is the falling action of the story?
leads to resolution of the conflict
EXAMPLE: John Proctor upholds his innocence. There are rumors of an uprising in a nearby town. Abigail flees Salem.

What is the climax of the story?
EXAMPLE: The Proctors are accused of witchcraft. John confessed his adultery to his wife, and she lies to the court in order to save him

What is the resolution of the story?
EXAMPLE: John Proctor is hanged, along with Rebecca Nurse. Because she is pregnant, Elizabeth Proctor’s life is spared.

Why is drama the most difficult form of writing?
-must bring it to life by performing it on stage (must engage enthusiasm)

Why are most plays produced in thee United States today?
-hope that they will make money

What are producers needed for and what do they do?
-playwrights must find an agent who submits a play to producers who would think about submitting it
-they advance money to finance a play, meet with agents who represent the playwrights, works with a playwright on changes to a play

Why is theater a collaborative medium?
-a director and actors “take away” a play from its author
-rehearsals=pleasant and tense
-producers seldom take risks on plays
-audience must contribute to a good performance

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American Literature: Witch trials (The Crucible). (2019, Feb 12). Retrieved from

American Literature: Witch trials (The Crucible)
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