The Crucible Study Guide Questions

“So now they and their church found it necessary to deny any other sect its freedom, lest their New Jerusalem be defiled and corrupted by wrong and deceitful ideas.” What is the irony in that statement? The Puritans came to this country for religious freedom, but they then persecuted others for their religion which made the colony almost as bad as the place they had left
Explain how the witch-hunt years were a time of “general revenge.” The Puritans were under such strict laws that when the witch hunts started, they didn’t repress their anger anymore and got revenge for whatever squabbles they had.
Identify Tituba Tituba was Parris’ slave from Barbados and was accused of conjuring spirits and being a witch. She late confesses to being a witch to save her life.
Identify Betty Betty was Parris’ daughter. She had a fit and the only explanation is the presence of witchcraft.
Identify Abigail Williams Abigail was Parris’ niece. Her parents were killed by Indians so she lived with Parris. She was very involved in the witch hunt and got revenge on many people in the village; especially Elizabeth Proctor because she wanted to marry her husband.
Why does Mrs. Putnam believe there are witches in Salem? Many of her babies have died and the only successful child (Ruth) was acting odd.
Why is Thomas Putnam bitter? His candidate for minister was rejected and he could not break his father’s will. He believed he was intellectually superior and was frustrated when he didn’t get his way.
Parris says, “Oh Abigail, what proper payment for my charity! Now I am undone!” What does that mean? Parris was having troubles before the story began and was trying to keep everything together. His niece’s flirting with witchcraft would give his enemies more ammunition against him. He has taken her in and she has done something which could cause his ruin.
What is Mary’s argument to Abby? She wants her to tell the truth about what happened in the woods. Mary suspects if the lies continue, the punishment could be far worse than it would be now (spanking and reprimanding).
Describe Proctor Proctor is a strong, fit, confident even-tempered man who is in his thirties. He is a farmer.
What happened between Abigail and John Proctor prior to the opening of the play? They apparently had an affair.
What was the “sign” that Betty was bewitched? She could not stand to hear the Lord’s name
Identify Francis Nurse Francis was greatly respected by people from the village. He was calm and an arbitrator. Married to Rebecca Nurse
Identify Rebecca Nurse Rebecca, his wife, was a good, kind, gentle woman who helped deliver some of the Puritan babies.
Explain the political relationship between the Putnam and Nurse Families. The Putnams didn’t like the Nurses because of some land disputes. Ann Putnam accused Rebecca of bewitching her newborn babies (saying she was responsible for deaths).
What did Rebecca do to Betty? She stood over her and quieted her.
What is Rebecca’s explanation of the girls’ behavior? She believes they made up the whole story for attention and in a few days the whole thing will be forgotten.
“There are wheels within wheels in this village and fires within fires.” Explain There are many political and personal grudges held among the people of Salem.
What is Proctor’s reason for his not regularly attending church? He doesn’t like Paris because he is too concerned with material wealth and doesn’t talk about God enough (he only speaks of fire and brimstone).
What does Parris want? The deed to his house and firewood in addition to his salary.
Giles says, “Think on it now, it’s a deep thing, and dark as a pit.” To what is he referring literally and symbolically? Literally he is talking about people not getting along. Symbolically, he is talking about their system of theocracy seems to be failing.
What do Putnam and Proctor argue about? What does this show? They argue about lumber and the ownership of land. Putnam is a devious, land-grabbing man.
Who is Rev. John Hale, and why does he come to Salem? He is an expert on witchcraft and comes to the town to help rid it of witches.
Hale says, “They [the books] must be [heavy]; they are weighted with authority.” What is the significance of this remark? The people put their faith in a book filled with information that is not well proven about the devil and witchcraft. This is similar to how they place their faith in the girls and the girls become weighted with authority although they (the girls) have information that is not substantiated. An analogy exists between their faith in the books and the faith in the Bible.
To what did Tituba confess? Why? She confessed that she conjured spirits, met with the devil and signed his book because if she didn’t confess she would have been hanged.
What do the girls do at the end of Act One? They admit that they were bewitched and started naming people they had seen with the devil.
What is the setting of the book? Salem, Massachusetts
What does Puritan mean? Advocated a practice of Christianity that they considered to be in keeping with the that which Christ had intended. Every a spect of their life was seen in relation to God’s will. Predestination was God’s manner of identifying one’s “calling.”
What is Theocracy? government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided
Who is the author of the book? Arthur Miller
At the begginning of Act II Where does Elizabeth want John to go, and what does she want him to do there? She wants him to go to Salem and tell the authorities the girls are lying.
2. What is John’s response to her prodding? He knows he should go but does not want to become involved.
3. What gift did Mary give Elizabeth? A “poppet” (doll) she made while sitting in court.
What was the “evidence” against Sarah Good? She confessed to witchcraft and the girls said she nearly choked them to death in court. She mumbled after begging for cider and bread and could not recite the commandments in court.
Why doesn’t Proctor want Mary to go back to court? That would make her more involved and it isn’t a just court in his eyes.
Why does Elizabeth think Abigail wants to kill her? She knows of John’s affair with Abby and believes Abby wants to take her place as John’s wife.
Why did Hale come to Proctor’s house He came to question all accused persons for himself.
What things are “suspicious” about Proctor and his family? He does not go to church regularly and his youngest son was not baptized. He does not have faith in Paris and it took both John and Elizabeth to remember all the commandments (he forgot adultery.)
Hale asks Elizabeth if she believes in witches. What is her reply? If accused, she would not believe in witches but if the Bible says there true she can’t dispute the Bible.
On what charge(s) was Rebecca Nurse arrested? Murder of Goody Putnams babies.
Why does Cheever come to the Proctor house? To arrest Elizabeth.
Explain the significance of the needle in the “poppet.” Abigail accused Elizabeth of sticking a needle in Abby’s stomach through the use of the doll. When Cheever saw the doll, there was a needle stuck in the abdomen. It was then determined that witchcraft was possible and Elizabeth was taken to prison.
13. What will happen to Proctor if he tries to discredit Abby? She will tell that they had an affair; she will discredit his name by calling him a lecher.
Why doesn’t Mary want to testify about the doll? She is afraid of Abigail and knows she will “get her” if she goes against her.
Why do Giles and Francis want to talk to Danforth at the begginning of act III? They try to persuade the judge that their wives are not witches.
What is Parris’ argument against Proctor? Parris says that Proctor is trying to overthrow the court.
What does Mary tell Danforth? “It were pretense, sir.” The girls have been lying.
When Danforth hears that Elizabeth is pregnant, what does he allow? If she is truly pregnant, he will allow her one year before she is hanged so she can have the baby. The point is that if Proctor is just trying to save Elizabeth, he need not continue with his arguments; she is saved for another year.
What paper did ninety-one people sign? They signed that Rebecca, Elizabeth and Martha were good, God-loving citizens
What quote did Proctor use to help Mary remain brave? “Do that which is good, and no harm will come to thee.” It is ironic later because Proctor does what he believes is good and is hanged.
Of what does Giles accuse Putnam? He accuses him of killing his neighbors for their land. (If a person was hanged, their land would go up for auction – Putnam was the only one who could afford the land).
What is Hale’s problem as Proctor and his friends present evidence to Danforth? Hale begins to realize that they could be right and that people who have been sentenced could have been innocent.
Hawthorne thinks of a test for Mary. What is it? Can she do it? Why or why not? He asks her to faint as she did in the courtroom. She could not do it on command and only could in the courtroom because the mood was set.
“…a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.” Explain the importance of Danforth’s statement. Either people were witches or they weren’t. There is no room for error, question or correction in the court. It could, then, go on forever in its incorrect path.
Proctor calls Abigail a *****, and he confesses his lechery. Danforth tests Proctor’s statement by calling for Elizabeth and asking her why Abigail was dismissed. What does Elizabeth say? She lies to protect John.
What do the girls do to Mary? What is her response? They pretend that her spirit is coming to get them. Mary tells them to stop it but they don’t so she joins in for her own protection.
What happens to Proctor? He is jailed for his contempt of the court and his suspicious activities.
What does Hale do? He quits the court.
What explanation does Cheever give for Parris’ “mad look”? He thinks it is caused by the cows. The cows are left wandering and there is much contention about ownership.
In act 4 what does Abigail do? Where does she go? She stole money from Parris and disappeared, reportedly left on a ship
Parris says, “You cannot hang this sort. There is danger for me.” What “sort” does he mean, and what is the danger to him? Because Proctor, Rebecca, Elizabeth and Martha were respected by the community, people doubted their connections with the devil. Since Parris was so involved with the prosecution, he was beginning to get threats on his life.
Explain Danforth’s reason that a pardon would not be just. If he would pardon the remaining accused, the people who were hanged would have died unjustly. Rather than admit he was wrong, he thought it better to continue hanging people so all accused would get equal treatment.
Why has Hale come back to Salem? He came to encourage the accused to confess and save their lives.
What does Hale want Elizabeth to do? He wants her to convince Proctor to confess.
What happened to Giles? He was pressed to death during questioning.
. Proctor says, “My honesty is broke, Elizabeth, I am no good man.” Explain He has decided to confess even though he isn’t guilty. This lying takes away his goodness and honesty. He has also broken the code of a man’s life. He is a sinner.
What “confession” did Elizabeth make to John? She tells him she feels she is also responsible for his affair with Abigail. If she were a better wife, he would not have been inclined to place his affections elsewhere.
What did Proctor do after he signed the confession? Why? He held the confession and would not give it up tot be publicly posted. He knew he was innocent and didn’t want innocent people to have to give up their goodness.
“I have given you my soul; please leave me my name!” Explain By confessing, Proctor has ruined himself. He will remain alive for sometime and will suffer eternally so he at least wants to have a good name.
“He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!” What does Elizabeth mean? Proctor regains his goodness by accepting his death by hanging rather than becoming an accomplice to the misguided authorities and by holding to the truth that he was not in partnership with the devil. If Elizabeth convinced him to make his confession public, his goodness would be taken away again. She understands the importance of Proctor’s eternal well-being and wished that for him over her own desires.

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