The Crucible

When and where is the play set? Salem, Massachusetts, 1692
What does Abigail confess to Reverend Parris? that they were dancing
What is wrong with Betty Parris? she won’t wake up
For whom does Abigail work? Whose niece is she? Abigail used to work for John Proctor’s family; for the last seven months, she hasn’t worked anywhere. She is Reverend Parris’s niece.
For whom does Mercy Lewis work? the Putnams
For whom does Mary Warren work? the Proctors
How do Reverend Parris’ parishioners feel about him? Most fear him because ministers hold such power, so they try to stay on his good side.
What is John Proctor’s attitude towards Parris? he thinks he’s greedy
What were the girls doing in the woods with Tituba? They were dancing, singing and playing at preparing charms. Abigail drank chicken blood.
Thus far, which people feel that witchcraft exists and which do not? Reverend Parris, the Putnam’s do; Corey Giles questions why is wife reads so much and wonders what she is reading. Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor do not believe in it and Rev. Hale doesn’t know what to believe, yet.
What does it mean when Betty can’t stand to hear the Lord’s name? To those who believe in witchcraft, it means that she is possessed by the Devil and that is why she can’t stand to hear the Lord’s name. In reality, she is probably feeling guilty over her actions and her shame at disobeying her religion’s tenets is exacerbated when she hears His name.
Who is John Hale? Why has he come to the Parris home? He is a minister from Beverly, Massachusetts and is widely educated about witchcraft and the unknown world. He has come to see if witchcraft is being practiced in Salem.
What is the conflict between Putnam and Proctor about? Basically John Proctor dislikes Thomas Putnam. Proctor feels that Putnam is land hungry and professes that acreage abutting his neighbors is his when it isn’t. Proctor also thinks Putnam feels that the Putnam family name should be revered and that the man uses it to gain power.
What does Mrs. Putnam believe caused the death of her seven children? She thinks that they were murdered by the Devil through his followers in Salem.
What are Parris’ feelings toward his congregation? He fears their rejection of him judges those who do not follow their religion exactly how he preaches it.
Why do Tituba and the girls call out names at the end of this act? What does Tituba confess and why? they fear the truth will come out
Why did Mrs. Putnam send her daughter, Ruth, to see Tituba? to ask what happened to her babies
Why would the Devil want Reverend Parris’ daughter? He wants to show that he has power over God’s men on earth.
What does Giles Corey say disturbs him about his wife? How is Corey described? He is upset that his wife reads so much and won’t tell him the names of the books.
According to Miller, what caused the witch-hunts? How does he describe the witch-hunts? He feels that a number of reasons are behind witch-hunts, but that basically people fear what they don’t understand. This makes them insecure about their own beliefs or places in society, so are quick to condemn peoples’ thoughts or actions. Also, many people are suspicious of their neighbors if the latter don’t believe and act as they do. Also, some people, like Putnam and Parris (and Senator Joseph McCarthy) are power-hungry. Miller describes both the Salem and the McCarthy witch-hunts as “periods of terror and persecution.”
What is the setting of Act 2? the Proctor house
What does Elizabeth want John to do? go to court and tell that the girls’ accusations are fake
Why has John been trying so hard to please his wife these last seven months? he had an affair with Abigail
Why does Mary Warren say that she had to be in Salem all day? she has been at court
What does Mary bring to Elizabeth? a popette
Why does Elizabeth want John to go see Abigail? convince Abigail to tell the court that it was fake; call her a slut
Why is Reverend Hale going from house to house? to question the accused of a higher social status
Why does John tell Hale that he would testify that Abigail was not really involved with witchcraft? He wants to save all of the women that Abigail falsely accused.
With what has Rebecca Nurse been charged? the murder of Goody Putnam’s babies
With what has Martha Corey been charged? she bewitched the pigs
With what does Cheever charge Elizabeth? attemped murder of Abigail
What does Elizabeth say that makes them take her away? she wishes Abigail were ripped from the world
Why will Elizabeth not believe in witches? She feels that all of the people who spend their lives obeying God by doing good works could not be serving the Devil, too.
Since the aged Goody Good has been declared pregnant, who is being implicated as the father? the Devil
Why has Goody Osburn been convicted? Along with Tituba and Sarah Good, Goody Osborn was accused of making Ruth and Betty sick through the use of witchcraft.
At this point, who does Reverend Hale believe is telling the truth – the Proctors or the court? the court
What is the irony in the fact that John Proctor misses the adultery commandment? he had an affair with Abigail
How does Elizabeth explain that her name has been called out in court? she says Abigail just wants her dead
What has Abigail suffered from that very night? What was her plan? She falls to the floor during dinner and then pulls a needle fro where it was stuck in her stomach. She cries out that Elizabeth Proctor did this because she wants her (Abigail) dead. Her plan was to have Elizabeth arrested for witchcraft and taken to jail so that she could marry John Proctor.
At the end of Act 2, what does John want Mary Warren to do? He wants her to tell the court about Abigail’s plotting and lies and wants her to confess her part in the treachery.
Where does Act 3 take place? It takes place in the vestry room of the Salem Meeting House where Court is being held.
Why is Giles Corey appearing in court? He is bringing proof that Putnam wants his land as well as that of some of his neighbors, therefore Putnam accuses someone in the family who has the land that he desires of witchcraft so that person will go to jail and forfeit the land which Putnam will confiscate.
How do you see Reverend Hale beginning to change? He sees the truth of what Corey, Proctor and Francis Nurse are saying and fears that the judges are jumping to conclusions of on the basis of false assumptions.
Describe Danforth as a judge. He tries to be honest and fair, but his concern that the trials will be looked at as a mockery if he accepts the men’s proof, thereby besmirching his name, keep him from changing course at this point. Also, he wants to believe that witchcraft has been present in Massachusetts because to do otherwise would mean that he sent innocent people to their deaths.
Why do Giles and John bring depositions to court? Giles wants to show that Putnam’s greed for land and power is behind his accusations, and Proctor wants to present Mary’s deposition that the girls made everything up.
What does the judge reveal about Elizabeth Proctor?Why doesn’t John drop his charges against Mary Warren when told of this news? He reveals that Elizabeth Proctor is pregnant. He doesn’t drop his desire to have Mary present her case because she is telling the truth and her story will save his wife’s life and those of many other people sitting in jail who are falsely accused of following the Devil.
Who does Reverend Parris support? He supports the girls’ stories, and therefore, the court.
Why does Giles Corey refuse to reveal the names of the witnesses against Putnam? He was given the information in confidence and will not renege on his promise to keep the names private.
For what reason is Giles Corey put in jail? He is jailed for contempt of court because he will not provide the names of the people who told him about Putnam’s plot.
What conditions do Hathorne and Proctor agree on regarding Elizabeth’s testimony? They agree that they will both accept Elizabeth’s word as the truth.
Why does Elizabeth deny her husband’s lechery with Abigail? She doesn’t know that he told the court about his affair and wants to save his name and reputation.
How does Elizabeth find out the truth about her husband? He tells her as she is being taken back to jail.
How does Abigail force Mary Warren to take up the deception and the lying in court? She pretends that Mary is a yellow bird sitting on a rafter who wants to claw her face and cries out in fear. She and the other girls also mock Mary’s every word. Mary sees how the judges believe that Abigail and the girls are under a spell, so she mimics their actions. She realizes that their lies are stronger than her truths and that she will be hung for lying if she doesn’t join them.
What falsehood does Mary Warren tell, under force, about John Proctor? She says that he came to her in the form of the Devil and frightened her into making up her story that Abigail and the girls were lying all along.
Who quits the court? What change has this man gone through since the beginning of the trials? Rev. Hale quits the court. He sees it for the mockery that it is, and knows that in Salem, and elsewhere in Massachusetts, innocent people are having their reputations ruined, spending their lives in jail for doing nothing wrong and/or are being killed. He realizes that in the beginning, he was using theories as truths when they had never been proven to be the honest truth.
What motivates John Proctor to claim that God is dead and vengeance is walking in Salem? He says this when he realizes that the judges refuse to accept the truth for fear of losing face, and is abhorred by their inability to admit that they were wrong.
As a result of the girls’ behavior, of what does Mary accuse Proctor? She accuses him of coming to her in the form of the Devil and scaring her into writing the deposition claiming that the girls have been lying.
What does Proctor say when Danforth asks him if he has “trafficked with the devil”? He says, “God is dead.”
What is the setting of Act 4? Salem jail cell; it is now fall.
What are Sarah Good and Tituba planning to do? They are planning to fly to Barbados when the Devil gives them feathers and wings.
Who has come back to plead with the prisoners to confess to save their lives? Reverend Hale.
What does Reverend Parris say has happened to Abigail and Mercy Lewis? He says that they have stolen his money and run away, maybe taken a ship somewhere.
According to Parris, what has been happening in Andover? Rebellion and riots have broken out there as a result of the travesty of their witch-hunt.
According to Parris, why must Danforth and Hathorne give Hale more time with the prisoners? He wants the hangings postponed so that Hale can get one person to confess and come to God. This will damn the other prisoners and make the townspeople feel justified in hanging them.
According to Hale, why has he come back? He wants them to lie and to confess to save themselves from being hung; because they won’t, though, he is convinced that they are innocent and the proceedings must stop.
Why do they call Elizabeth to the cell? They want her to convince her husband, John, to confess so he will live.
How has Giles Corey died? He was crushed to death (pressed) when huge rocks were placed on his chest.
Why has he chosen to die this way? How has he saved his farm for his children? He wanted to die a Christian so his farm would be passed to his children and not be confiscated by Putnam.
How does Elizabeth respond when John tells her that he might confess? She says that she can’t and won’t judge him, that he must do what he feels in his heart is right.
What is John’s reasoning for deciding to confess? He feels that he is a fraud if he chooses to accept his martyrdom and die like a saint in the eyes of those who know that these trials have been wrong.
What does John say when they want him to associate other people with the devil? He says that he saw no one with the Devil.
Why is John hesitant about signing the paper? He knows that his confession is a lie, and he refuses to ruin his name (reputation) in the eyes of those people who know that he is a good man.
Why does he take the paper back and rip it up? He says that Danforth’s word alone is good enough because the judge is a member of the high court.
Why does Elizabeth say she will not try to stop John from going to the gallow? She says that he alone must decide what course to take, that she can’t do this for him.
Why are orphans wandering from house to house and abandoned cows wandering in the roads? Their parents are in jail or have been hanged.
How does Reverend Hale feel about what he is asking these Christians to do? He feels disgust with himself because he is asking them to lie and he knows that they are innocent.
What does Rebecca’s refusal to confess say about her character? Her refusal shows that she is a strong and moral person who is willing to give her life to stand on the side of truth.
What is a crucible? A crucible is receptacle used to withstand melting metal under extreme heat.
What is the significance of the title? The people who were victims of the witch-hunt had to live with the intensity of: the accusations, the smearing of their reputations, the bloodlust of mob mentality, their passion for the well-being of their family and friends, and the soul-searching of their beliefs and their religion for what was right in their hearts without melting under all of the pressure.
Are the girls insane? If not, why do they act as they do? No, they were not insane, especially Abigail. At first she acted out of fear of being punished for disobeying the teachings of her Uncle Parris and her church. Then, when she realized that she couldn’t stop the rolling stone of the witch-hunt without ruining her own reputation, she plotted to save herself, physically and in the eyes of the townspeople. The other girls went along with her out of fear for being punished for the dancing, etc, but also because they were too weak to stand up to Abigail. The whole mob mentality of the situation swept them along so swiftly that they didn’t know how to stop it and didn’t have the skills (maturity, sense of responsibility, confidence in standing alone instead of with the crowd, etc) to do so even if they wanted to. Mary Warren is a good example of this. I think of them as America’s first Mean Girls.
What is the major conflict in the play? Give both the kind of conflict and the specific conflict. Although Man vs. Man and Man vs. Society and Man vs. the Supernatural all form huge conflicts, the main one is Man vs. Man. Each character had to wrestle with him/herself in order to choose a path through life that he/she could live with.
What is the theme of the play? Each person must decide what morals and values will guide him/her through life, and must be willing to hold true to them no matter how difficult this may be
Could a similar situation happen today (reputations ruined by innuendo)? Why or why not? I wrote on this, but then deleted it, because for each of us, the answer is very personal. I’d rather stick with points that can be proven by the interpretation of the book. A unit plan should be as objective as possible. How and what teachers choose to present is up to them. I do open a discussion where my students can talk about the importance of reputation in high schools and how easily one’s name can be elevated or smeared.

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