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The Crucible IB Study Guide


BASIC INFORMATION & PLOT SUMMARY Arthur Millers The Crucible revolves around the Salem Witch Trials that happened in the late 1600s. It revolves around two main characters Abi!ail Williams and "ohn #roctor. #eople in the town are accused o$ witcher% and trials be!in to determine i$ the accusations are true. &nrest overcomes the town and nobod% is sa$e $rom these accusations e'cept $or the accusers. (ventuall% people start standin! up to Abi!ail Williams accusations and because these accusations bear no proo$ and are pure hearsa% the witch trials conclude but not be$ore "ohn #roctor is as)ed to con$ess re$uses and is ta)en to the stoc)s. ACT I * +isin! Action, -ett% #arris does not wa)e up Abi!ail and "ohn #roctor meet and he tells her the% can no lon!er be to!ether .ale comes to Salem Abi!ail and the !irls want to /open themselves0 and accuse people o$ witchcra$t. ACT II * More +isin! Action, The witch trials be!in .ale visits the #roctors "ohn $or!ets the seventh commandment (li1abeth is ta)en awa% #roctor ma)es Mar% Warren con$ess that ever%thin! is pretense. ACT III2Clima', The main trial. "ohn #roctor presents a deposition Mar% Warren tells the court ever%thin! was pretense Abi!ail sees /a bird0 s%mboli1in! the devil Mar% Warren !oes bac) to the !irls side "ohn #roctor con$esses to adulter% (li1abeth #roctor is brou!ht in to 3uestion whether that is true and she lies .ale denounces the proceedin!s and the court. ACT I425enouement6Conclusion, Salem trials cause unrest in other towns Abi!ail runs awa% "ohn #roctor is as)ed to con$ess (li1abeth !oes to tal) with him sa%in! she will not 7ud!e him. "ohn con$esses but will not si!n his name and is later ta)en to be han!ed. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PLAY The Crucible is an alle!orical pla%. An alle!or% is a $orm o$ e'tended metaphor in which ob7ects persons and actions in a narrative are e3uated with meanin!s that lie outside the narrative. An alle!orical narrative there$ore has two meanin!s2a literal meanin! and a symbolic meanin!. The pla% is alle!orical to McCarth%ism which happened in the &nited States in the 1890s. :i)e in the witch trials accusations o$ people bein! communist were based on hearsa% and man% su$$ered as a result The Crucible is a social drama. A social drama is directl% social and political in orientation2it $ocuses on man in his social and political conte't. With Millers portra%al o$ "ohn #roctor we see a man in such an element. "ohn #roctor is surrounded b% people who believe Abi!ail Williams accusations o$ witcher% and he is the voice of reason in this pla%. #roctor stru!!les to show the Salem communit% the truth %et the% do not believe him. The Crucible is a tra!ed% A tra!ed% is a conse3uence o$ a mans total ur!e to evaluate himsel$ 7ustl% his destruction in the attempt posits a wron! or an evil in his environment. The essence o$ The Crucible is con$lict which tends to arise $rom human $ailin!s which result in a lac) o$ responsibilit% to onesel$ and ones societ%. I$ we ta)e a loo) at "ohn #roctors character three $undamentals o$ tra!ed% are $ul$illed2

1.; Throu!h a tortuous process o$ sel$<e'amination an individual arrives at a new reali1ation o$ himsel$ and his relationship to the world at lar!e2"ohn #roctor who is Abi!ails main tar!et is the voice o$ reason in the town and stru!!les to show them that none o$ Abi!ails accusations are true. In the process his wi$e is also accused and he ultimatel% $eels the dut% to protect himsel$ his $amil% and the whole town $rom Abi!ail. =.; The individual discovers in the necessit% o$ ma)in! a decision in the $ace o$ insurmountable odds2The decision that "ohn has to ma)e is not simple. In the end he has to choose to ma)e a $alse con$ession to witcher% to save his li$e his wi$e and his $amil% or to stic) to the truth and be ta)en to the stoc)s. >.; Althou!h the movement toward sel$<reco!nition leads to destruction an a$$irmation o$ li$e is ultimatel% propounded2"ohns destruction is that he $alsel% con$esses to witcher% but reali1es he cannot do so without moral issues. So he ends up ?@T con$essin! to witcher% and is han!ed. .owever we see that (li1abeth and the rest o$ the communit% includin! "ud!e .athorne +everend #arris etc reali1e the repercussion o$ their actions in believin! Abi!ails accusations and we can in$er that the communit% will tr% to ri!ht their wron!s. CHARACTERIZATION "ohn #roctor Character traits, ver% morall% upri!ht honest proud cares about reputation impulsive In the play, is the/atra!ic hero Fatal flaw, :ust $or Abi!ail Williams Abein! human and succumbin! to temptation;. It led to an a$$air to Abi!ails 7ealous% o$ (li1abeth #roctor and ultimatel% to the whole witch trial ordeal. UltimatelyB he publicl% con$esses he had an a$$air with Abi!ail leadin! to his arrest. -ut in the end he cares more about personal inte!rit% thanpublic reputation. .e wants to save his name $or personal reasons rather than public ones. .e denounces the witch trials and re$uses to provide a $alse con$ession to witcher% not wantin! to dishonor himsel$. This inte!rit% perhaps will brin! him to heaven and cancel out his sin o$ adulter%. A?ote, #roctor $or!ets adulter% when as)ed to recite the Seven Commandments; Abi!ail Williams Character traits: manipulative 7ealous lust$ul A$or se' and $or power; In the play, is the/aB villain Backgroun : Abi!ail is an orphan and is unmarried. She there$ore does not sit hi!h on social ran)in!. Further information: Abi!ail tells lies and accuses people in the town o$ witcher%. She manipulates her $riends to do the same. .er motivation $or this is simple, 7ealous% and desire $or reven!e on (li1abeth #roctor. She ta)es advanta!e o$ her power and sends 18 people to death. Ultimately she reali1es that she will not have this power $orever and when people be!in doubtin! the accurac% o$ the accusations she runs awa% $urther drivin! speculation that she was a liar. (li1abeth #roctor Character traits: so$t<spo)en $or!ivin! simple honest In the play, is theBwi$e o$ "ohn #roctor Further information: (li1abeth who has a $amil% with "ohn #roctor seems to have $or!iven him $or his sin o$ adulter%. She however $ired Abi!ail Williams $rom their home. #roctor sa%s that she /never tells a lie 0 however to save her husband in court she lies that he has

never had se'ual relations with Abi!ail thou!h he had alread% con$essed it. Ultimately, when as)ed to !et #roctor to con$ess she does not pressure him to ma)e a $alse con$ession sa%in! /I will not 7ud!e %ou "ohn.0 She believes her husband is !ood man with morals and values. When he is han!ed she sa%s o$ him /.e have his !oodness now. Cod $orbid I ta)e it $rom himD0 +everend .ale Character traits, ti!ht<s)inned intellectual does ever%thin! b% the boo)s In the play, he turns into a voice o$ reason. .e is the onl% one who trans$orms into someone who believes that #roctor and Mar% Warren are tellin! the truth. .e is also the onl% person $rom outside o$ Salem and the onl% apparent /o$$icial0 on the topic. !ore information, .ale was as)ed to come in to inspect #arris dau!hter and enters the town with an air o$ )nowled!e. 5urin! the clima' in Act III he sides with those who denounce the witch trials. .owever he is too late and this shatters his ps%che. As his belie$ in witchcra$t $alters so does his $aith in the law. Ultimately .ale has the audiences s%mpath% but not their respect. .e is the one in the end who tries to convince the accused to lie to save their lives. .ale reco!ni1es the evil o$ the witch trials but he does not de$% them li)e #roctor does. -ecause he lived his whole li$e believin! in the law and in boo)s he does not )now how to stand up $or such belie$s. .e seems to believe that li$e is the most precious !i$t and it is worth sacri$icin! human inte!rit% to )eep on livin!. @ther Important Characters include, Mar% Warren who is the onl% one o$ the !irls to con$ess that the witch trials were a sham. She ma)es such a con$ession with "ohn #roctor but then due to pressure $rom Abi!ail returns to the !irls side. +everend #arris who is hated b% "ohn #roctor $or bein! a $rivolous minister. .is dau!hter -ett% #arris is the $irst one we are introduced to who is a$$ected b% /witcher%.0 Tituba an A$rican woman who is accused $or witcher% simpl% because she is blac). +ebecca ?urse who also does not con$ess to witcher%. :i)e "ohn #rocter she has inte!rit% and is not willin! to sacri$ice it 7ust to live. THEMES .%steria #erhaps one o$ the most important themes in the pla% h%steria pla%ed a hu!e part in the witch trials. It has more power than lo!ic and a$$ected the people o$ Salem in that the% believed that their nei!hbors and $riends who the% previousl% thou!ht o$ as citi1ens in !ood standin! are conspirin! with the devil. .%steria pla%s a part in the citi1ens o$ Salem e'pressin! repressed sentiments and !rud!es. The ma7or case o$ this is Abi!ail Williams who desires reven!e on (li1abeth #roctor and wants her dead so she can be with "ohn #roctor. @thers that thrive on h%steria are +everend #arris Aon "ohn #roctor; and Thomas #utnam Aon +ebecca ?urse because she /)illed0 his babies;. In the end however h%steria dies down and lo!ic prevailsB the citi1ens o$ Salem reali1e that the witch trials were not 7usti$ied. Intolerance -ecause reli!ion pla%s a bi! part in The Crucible intolerance is a ma7or theme. There is

intolerance in ever%thin! that is not a part o$ the bible and o$ the reli!ion. Sins are not condemned2there$ore #roctor $eels the need to hide the adulter% he committed. Conspirin! with the devil however is a much !reater sin and #roctor reali1es this and re$uses to ma)e a $alse accusation. 5an$orth sa%s in Act III that /a person is either with this court or he must be counted a!ainst it.0 This shows that the societ% is blac) and white. @ne is either with Cod or with the 5evil a witch or not a witch innocent or !uilt%. +eputation (speciall% with re!ard to "ohn #roctor reputation is ver% important in Salem. Abi!ail Williams basicall% acts on reputation when accusin! people o$ actin! with Satan. She accuses those who are un)empt and $rom there pro!resses on to people li)e (li1abeth #roctor and +ebecca ?urse. "ohn #roctor stru!!les to protect his reputation in the be!innin! re$usin! to admit to adulter% and instead tr%in! to denounce the court usin! Mar% Warrens con$ession that ever%thin! was pretense. At the end however he cares more about his reputation with Cod than with the public and there$ore re$uses to si!n a $alse con$ession to save his own li$e. .e sa%s to 5an$orth /I have !iven %ou m% soul Ab% con$essin! to witchcra$t;E leave me m% nameD0 AAct I4; SETTING #h%sical2 Salem Massachussetts 16=8. Social2 5eals with heresa% and $alse accusations .%steria in the town leads to repercussions such as death Witch Trials stand $or 1890s McCarth%ism DRAMATIC ART There is a lot o$ e'planation in the te't especiall% in Act I. Miller provides his readers with bac)!round in$ormation on each character on Salem and on the time period. .e tal)s about each characters characteristics the belie$s o$ the time period etc. While watchin! the pla% however audiences will not be able to see this. The sta!in! $or the pla% is important with re!ard to time period costumes and props. .owever Miller does not !ive as e'tensive sta!e direction as other pla%wri!hts do. .e does thou!h !ive instructions $or the set sa%in! where thin!s are and where characters enter and e'it $rom. @ne important sta!in! scene is that o$ (li1abeth and "ohn #roctor. (li1abeth is not supposed to see "ohn or loo) at "ohn2and because o$ this tells a lie $or the $irst time leadin! to a ma7or development in the pla%. We must note that there is a deleted scene in Act II where an interaction between Abi!ail and "ohn #roctor occurs revealin! that the% had an a$$air and that the reason Abi!ail is doin! all o$ this is because o$ him to !et reven!e on (li1abeth. It was ta)en out perhaps $or this ver% reason2that it revealed too much o$ the stor%. KEY QUOTES Abi!ail, I loo) $or "ohn #roctor that too) me $rom m% sleep and put )nowled!e in m% heartD I never )new what pretense Salem was I never )new the l%in! lessons I was tau!ht b% all these Christian women and their covenanted menD And now %ou bid me tear the li!ht out o$ m% e%esF I will not I cannotD Gou loved me "ohn #roctor and whatever sin it is %ou love me %etD AAct I;

Abi!ail, I want to open m%sel$D . . . I want the li!ht o$ Cod I want the sweet love o$ "esusD I danced $or the 5evilE I saw him I wrote in his boo)E I !o bac) to "esusE I )iss .is hand. I saw Sarah Cood with the 5evilD AAct I; 5an$orth, Gou must understand sir that a person is either with this court or he must be counted a!ainst it there be no road between. AAct III; "ohn #roctor, I be! %ou sir I be! %ou2see her what she is . . . She thin)s to dance with me on m% wi$es !raveD And well she mi!ht $or I thou!ht o$ her so$tl%. Cod help me I lusted and there is a promise in such sweat. -ut it is a whores ven!eanceB AAct III; Abi!ail, :et %ou beware Mr. 5an$orth. Thin) %ou to be so mi!ht% that the power o$ .ell ma% not turn your witsF -eware o$ itD AAct III; Mar% Warren, I promise %ou Mr 5an$orth I onl% thou!ht I saw them but I did not AAct III; (li1abeth #roctor, I am not %our 7ud!e I cannot be. 5o as %ou will do as %ou willD AAct I4; (li1abeth #roctor, "ohn it come to nau!ht that I should $or!ive %ou i$ %oull not $or!ive %oursel$. It is not m% soul "ohn it is %ours. AAct I4; "ohn #roctor, -ecause it is m% nameD -ecause I cannot have another in m% li$eD...I have !iven %ou m% soulE leave me m% nameDAAct I4; (li1abeth #roctor, .e have his !oodness now. Cod $orbid I ta)e it $rom himD AAct I4;