The Crucible - Entire unit
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By Arthur Miller Higher Study
Arthur Miller McCarthyism Salem Puritanism
What is an overture? A piece of music at the beginning of a show that shows excerpts from the play – hints at what’s to come. Knowing this, what does it make you think about/expect of the play?
What does an overture do? Introduces Parris – What do we think of him? Tells us about Salem and the people who live there. Sets the scene and helps us to understand what life was like. How would this society make you feel? Based on the info from the overture, what do you think the tension level is at the start of the play?
Allocate parts within your group. Focus on one part of scene (roughly a page). Take notes and report back to class. Each group takes notes during feedback to ensure you have whole scene analysed. Remember – make note, underline important points and find evidence (quotes) to support. Consider – why is this scene important? What does it do? How does it affect tension level? How does it affect audience?
In the same groups as last time take notes on the character you have been allocated and answer, as fully as you can, the questions on the following slide. Characters: John Proctor, Parris, the Putnams, Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey, Abigail, the girls and Tituba.
Whole class discussion of additional notes on Diabolism and modern ‘taboos’. How are the themes of religion, society, politics relevant to us? “wheels within wheels...fires within fires...” (Facebook?) To what extent is our society still struggling with the balance between ‘order and freedom’? And other societies around the world?
2. 3. 4.
To what extent do you think the involvement of Tituba and Abigail differs from that of the other girls: (a) in the forest and (b) in their reactions to being caught? How might Proctor have been said to have behaved badly towards Abigail? What do Parris’ complaints reveal about his character? (Focus on dialogue here, not Miller’s intro.) Examine the relationship between Ann Putnam and Rebecca Nurse. What hints are we given that Goody Putnam will bring trouble to Goody Nurse later? The Interrogation – think back to the stage directions and character intros throughout Act 1. What other possible outcome, if any, could there be at this juncture and why? How does the resulting hysteria at the end of Act 1 affect Abigail? Create a tension graph for Act 1 including quotes/pictorial represetnations representations for moments when the tension is extremely high.
For the following quote make as many notes as you can. Aim to include details on character, plot, setting and tension. “…put knowledge in my heart”/”You love me yet” Highlights Abigail’s obsession with John and creates understanding of how her campaign of hatred began.
Staging – An exemplar paragraph: Act 1 takes place in ‘a small upper bedroom’ with ‘a narrow window’. Towards the end of the Act this room is populated by: Betty, Reverand Parris, Reverand Hale, Abigail, Tituba, Mr and Mrs Putnam. Miller uses staging well here to create tension in the scene. To have so many characters in such a small space during what is clearly an emotional and rather aggressive interrogation, Miller allows the audience to appreciate the pressure on all of the characters. This, in turn, allows the audience to sympathise with Tituba’s fear. She is surrounded by powerful men and women who are mercilessly seeking answers. Not only does this allow us to understand why Tituba confesses but it also represents Puritan society as a whole. Those who had sinned could feel the pressure of the town bearing down on them and used the hysteria as a means of ridding themselves of sin. Therefore Miller’s staging in Act 1 enables the audience to gain a deep insight into how easily the hysteria began and how quickly it got out of control. The fact that it’s a “narrow window” also reflects the lack of enlightenment (in terms of science, understanding of the world) and reminds the audience of the dark, dangerous times the Puritan’s were living in (the “savages” and wild animals of the frontier, religious oppression, lack of individual freedom etc). This helps us empathise with the constant fear of the dark unknown and what lies outside the village. This can help us understand why some of the Puritans attack Tituba so strongly. They feel she is the “root” of the problem here in Salem, the one chink of light they can cling to for an explanation and to blame. To not have anything to blame/believe in is all the more frightening. After all, we’re all afraid of the dark.
To fully respond to the type of question you will face in the exam, you must have a sound understanding of all of the themes and characters in the play. You will be required to explain how the relationships between characters develop throughout and how individual characters’ personalities or circumstances change. For each of the points on the next slide ask yourself: Could I find quotes to identify and explain these features of the play? Could I explain their significance to my understanding of the play? If I had to, right now, could I mindmap or bullet point significant details? How am I going to remember what these characters were like at the beginning of the play? How will I remember the way in which the themes were introduced?
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Now...you should begin to use your ‘Analysing a Scene’ mindmaps to make notes on Act 1 for your own reference throughout the year. Keep these safe!!!
The following themes have been introduced in Act 1: Religion Hysteria Power The following characters have been introduced in Act 1: John Proctor Abigail Williams Reverand Parris The Putnams Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey Reverand Hale
What role does sexual repression play in The Crucible?
Points you may wish to include:
Setting and Theme – Salem, Religion, Puritanism Character – Abigail and John’s relationship, the girls’ fear of being caught
Success Criteria: Accurate spelling, punctuation and sentence structure Answer the question Appropriate length
Use technical vocabulary Analyse key quotes Evaluate how well the themes of the play are delivered
John and Elizabeth have a strained relationship because of John’s affair with Abigail. Theme – religion. Elizabeth is hurt and is judging John over his affair: “The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, only somewhat bewildered.”
Although Elizabeth is hurt she still believes John to be a good man. John feels that his affair i.e. his flaw, is preventing him from coming to God and being loved by God. This emphasises that in the Puritan society of Salem there was no outlet for sin or forgiveness.
Theme – hysteria. This is reinforced when Mary tells the Proctor’s that Elizabeth has been accused and that 39 people have now been arrested. (dialogue) Mary Warren is a minor character but without her the plot would not move forward (poppet). She shows contempt at being treated like a child/slave. “I’ll not stand whipping no more.” showing that Mary now has the power to stand up to Proctor. John Proctor – major character. Has conflicting emotions. Loves Abigail but is also unwilling to accuse Abigail of lying in court. Wants to go to court but knows that this means admitting in public that he has committed adultery.
Language – persistent use of biblical language reinforce the power of religion in this society. John talks to Mary as though he is superior and she is a silly child. How has power changed in this household due to the trials?
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Why has Hale come to question the Proctors? After being so reluctant, why does Hale become suspicious of the Proctors? To what extent does Mary’s role in the trials become more significant in this Act? In what way does Miller use Maryas a plot device? What is the audience's reaction to the news that Rebecca Nurse has been charged? Miller cleverly uses Hale's reaction to this news to manipulate the audience's expectations of what is to follow. Explain. What impact does 'conscience' have on this Act? and on the tension levels throughout it? How do the witch trials empower individuals who were previously powerless?
Choose a play whose main theme concerns one of the following: power, corruption, disillusionment. Explain how the dramatist introduces the theme and discuss to what extent you found the way it is explored in the play enhanced your understanding of the theme.
‘introduces the theme’ - refer to the beginning of the play, the first time the theme is introduced. ‘to what extent’ – you can both agree and disagree but you will often find it easier to agree. ‘the way it is explored in the play’ – main character will be key here as they show how the theme happens in the play. It may also be useful to draw comparisons/parallels with minor characters to intensify your points. Setting may also be important (esp. in The Crucible as the theocratic society is the very thing which attributes power in a certain way.) ‘enhanced your understanding of the play’ – throughout your answer you must imply/state that a particular aspect i.e. Setting added to the effect or atmosphere thus emphasising the theme, making its impact clearer. This means you are evaluating as you work through your response.
Linking Analysis •Plot Another example •Structure Furthermore •Tension In addition to this •Staging As well as this •Characterisation Similarly •Dialogue •Key Scene On the other hand It can also be argued that However As well as this
Evaluation •Clearly •This very effective scene/ speech/ image... •impressive use of
Identify the theme. Is it introduced by characters? If so, who? And how? Is the theme illustrated through the characters’ strengths and weaknesses (action, dialogue)? Is there a key scene which makes clear to you how the characters are dealing with the issues? Does setting or atmosphere add to the idea of ‘power’? What about the effects of theatrical devices, like staging, on your appreciation of the theme?
Part 1 – Beginning of scene to Mary beginning to give evidence. Part 2 – Mary’s evidence to just before Yellow Bird scene. Part 3 – Yellow Bird scene to end.
New characters are seen for first time: Hathorne, Danforth and Martha Corey. What does this scene hint at beyond events of the play itself? “Thomas Putnam is reaching for land” – without fully understanding Abigail’s role, how does Giles Corey here help us to understand yet another contributing factor to the hysteria?
What do we see/learn of Hathorne’s character in this opening scene? Why does Danforth remind Francis Nurse and Giles Corey of his power? How is Hales’ character further developed? Deposition not accepted but Mary Warren says she ‘never saw no spirits’. Danforth, Parris and Hathorne are fearful of the court’s power being challenged and turn this into an attack on the court which leads to them challenging Proctor’s intentions. How does this link back to the theme of power and to setting?