The Crucible

Before we begin reading the play, we need to do some research so we can better understand the social, historical and political contexts against which it is set.

How we undertake and present our research findings is completely up to you, so we will negotiate it in class. The most important thing to remember is to make sure you include all the required information. The task is due by the last class before the holidays: Thursday 30/06/11. This is a learning activity that will go on your report. No extensions!

Any work that is obviously copied and pasted will result in an instant N


The Salem WitchTrials
(1) Using Google Maps/earth, find out where Salem is.
(2) When did the Salem witch trials take place?
(3) What kind of community was Salem?
(4) What were the religious beliefs of the people of this time and place?
(5) Who was responsible for the accusations of witchcraft?
(6) What kind of crimes were witches accused of? Give examples.
(7) How were witches punished?

Senator JosephMcCarthy and HUAC
(1) Who was Senator Joseph McCarthy?
(2) In your own words, provide a definition of McCarthyism.
(3) What was the purpose of the House Un-American Activities Committee?
(4) In which ways do their activities compare to the Salem witch trials?
(5) Are there any other modern events that can be described as witch hunts?
Find atleast one example and discuss.
Arthur Miller
(1) Who was Arthur Miller? Produce a brief biography.
(2) When did Miller write The Crucible?
(3) Why did he write The Crucible?
(4) Based on your knowledge of Miller and the text, what was his opinion of the HouseUn-American Activities Committee?
(5) Why do you think Miller set his play in Salem, hundreds of years ago, rather than the 20th century?

Congratulations on some outstanding and very creative research assingnments! Below is a link to one of them. Check it out, as it just might help you with your studies and exam revision.

Class Resources

The Crucible PPT

Information about Puritans

Information about McCarthyism



A Research Guide for Students: The Crucible

Discovery Education: The Salem Witch Trials

Witchcraft in Salem Village
This site provides a wealth of primary source documents, from trial transcripts to rare books, and historical maps of Salem Village. Also features a helpful Q&A with the town archivist for Danvers (formerly Salem Village).

Famous American Trials: Salem Witchcraft Trials 1692
Find a chronology of events, images, select trial transcripts and petitions, biographies, excerpts from Cotton Mather's Memorable Providences, and more.

Salem Witchcraft Hysteria (National Geographic)
Experience the events of 1692 through the eyes of an accused witch.

Map of Salem Village: Witchcraft Accusations
An interactive map showing the locations of the accused and the accusers, as well as major roads, rivers, townships, and households.

Joseph McCarthy

Background Info

Overview of McCarthys Witch Hunt

Arthur Miller Biography

Arthur Miller Biography

  • Kallen, Stuart A. The Salem Witch Trials
  • Hermes, Patricia, Salem Witch: Elizabeth�s Story (FICTION)
  • The NEAP Guide to The Crucible
  • 20th Century Interpretations of The Crucible
  • 20th Century Perspectives: The McCarthy Hearings
  • Dorman, Mitchell, Witch Hunt: The Under Side of American Democracy

The Crucible – Glossary
Adamant utterly unyielding in attitude or opinion in spite of all appeals, urgings, etc...

Affidavit a written declaration upon oath made before an authorized official.

Autocracy a government in which one person has unlimited authority over others.

Bowlegged outward curvature of the legs causing a separation of the knees when the ankles are close or in contact.

Clod a lump or chunk, especially of earth or clay.

Contention a struggling together in opposition; strife.

Contiguous touching; in contact.

Crucible a container used for heating substances to high temperatures. Also a severe test or trial.

Defamation false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander.

Deposition a statement under oath, taken down in writing, to be used in court in place of the spoken testimony of the witness.

Excommunicate to cut off from communion with a church or exclude from the sacraments of a church by ecclesiastical sentence.

Faction party strife and intrigue; dissension.

Gibbet a gallows with a projecting arm at the top, from which the bodies of criminals were hung in chains and left suspended after execution

Grapple to seize another, or each other, in a firm grip, as in wrestling.

Intimation to hint; imply; suggest.

Lechery unrestrained or excessive indulgence of sexual desire.

Licentious sexually unrestrained; lewd.

Magistrate a civil officer charged with administration of the law.

Obscene offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved.

Pallor unusual or extreme paleness, as from fear, ill health, or death.

Parish a local church.

Pilgrimage any long journey, undertaken as a religious quest.

Plaintiff a person who brings a case to court.

Poppet a doll.

Predilection a preference, or partiality.

Pretence pretending.

Prodigious extraordinary in size, amount, extent, degree, force, etc...

Propriety conformity to established standards of good or proper behaviour or manners.

Providence a manifestation of divine care or direction.

Reproach to find fault with a person, group, etc...

Struck dumb rendered mute, unable to speak.

Subservient serving or acting in a subordinate capacity.

Titillated aroused.

‍Succubi Any demon or evil spirit

(nga)errand-a short and quick trip to accomplish a specific purpose.

[Lina] Obedience: compliance with someone's wishes or orders or acknowledgment of their authority.

(Jessica) Formidable- Inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable: "a formidable opponent".

(Minh) Klatsches: A casual gathering of people, especially for refreshments and informal conversation.

(Tegan)- vindictive: disposed or inclined to revenge; vengeful: a vindictiveperson.

TheCrucible – Vocabulary by page number
Page 13. 
  • Unmellowed - Not mellowed; not fully matured; not toned down or softened byage
  • Inert–motionless; lifeless
  • Bidden – told;asked; allowed

Page 14.
  • Sombre – bland;dull; lifeless
  • Predilection –tendency
  • Rankle –irritate; annoy
  • Marauded–intruded
  • Parishioners – membersof the church
  • Heathen–atheist; barbaric

Page 15.
  • Parochial–narrow-minded
  • Defiled –tainted; corrupted
  • Ingratiating – charming;smarmy; sucking up
  • Autocratic –dictatorial
  • Ideology –philosophy; ideas; beliefs; thoughts
  • Perpetuation – keepinggoing; maintaining

Page 16.
  • Junta –governed by the army
  • Insoluble –mysterious; unsolvable
  • Paradox –inconsistency; irony; contradiction; impossibility
  • Theocracy –governed by the church
  • Perverse – wicked;bad; unnatural
  • Repressions –oppression; suppression; tyranny; cruelty

Page 17.
  • Vengeance –revenge; punishment
  • Injunctions–orders; commands; rulings; restrictions
  • Lucifer–the devil
  • Merchant –business owner
  • Hearty–healthy

Page 18.
  • Quaking –shaking; trembling; shivering
  • Dissembling–deceptive
  • Apprehension –uneasiness; anxiety; worry; hesitation; nervousness
  • Propriety–politeness; modesty; respectability; decency

Page 19.
  • Trafficked – traded;bought and sold
  • Faction –division; group
  • Pulpit–platform; stand; podium (where the minister preaches from)
Page 20.
  • Goody - a shortened form of goodwife, aterm of politeness for a married. Like Mrs. or Madam
  • Signifed–shows; stands for; symbolises; implies; suggests

Page 22.
  • Vindictivedisposed or inclined to revenge; vengeful: a vindictive person.


Character Profiles

John_Proctor.jpgJohn Proctor

  • ‍Farmer
  • Middle thirties
  • Powerful man
  • Cheated on his wife with Abigal and now regrets it and feels guilty
  • Even-tempered ~ not easily annoyed

Elizabeth Proctor

  • ‍According to Abigal she is "a bitter woman, a lying, cold, snivelling woman"
  • Blackening Abigals name in the village (this might mean she knows about the affair.)pa

Mary Warren

  • ‍17 years old
  • Lonely
  • Is considering telling the truth about the night around the fire, but she fears Abigal and Mercy.
  • Servant in the Proctor household.
  • Easily influenced

Rebecca Nurse

  • ‍wife of francis
  • Acted as a judge because she wasn't bias.
  • Sensible woman

Francis Nurse

  • Husband of Rebecca
  • Wealthy & Influencial
  • Well respected

Giles Corey

  • ‍ early 80's
  • Didn't care about what others thought
  • Married Martha
  • Only recently started going to church and learning prayers
  • He was a crank and a nuisance but withal a deeply innocent and brave man

Sussanna Walcott

  • ‍Little younger than Abigal (maybe 16)
  • Nervous and hurried
  • Acted as a messenger

Sarah Good

  • mentally unstable
  • homeless
  • a beggar
  • accused of witchcraft by Abigail

Reverend John Hale

  • ‍Nearing 40
  • Proud of his work
  • Intelligent


  • Deputy Governor of Massachusetts
  • Honest & Conscientious
  • Opposes to witchcraft - a non-believer


  • The judge presiding over the witch trials along with Danforth

Ezekiel Cheever

  • A clerk of the court during the witchcraft trials
  • Delivers warrants to arrest the accused


  • Marshal of Salem


  • one of the guards at the jail

Reverend Parris

  • ‍Middle forties
  • Widower
  • Had no intrest in children
  • Appears to be selfish "just nowhen some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character" pg.20

Betty Parris

  • ‍At the beggining of the book she layed inert
  • Only woke when Abigal, Mercy and Mary were the only others in the room
  • scared of abigal because of what she threatens to do to her.
  • Has no mother

Abigail Williams

  • ‍17
  • strikingly beautiful
  • orphan
  • Controls the other girls
  • Saw her own parents be murdered,
  • Wants Goody Proctor dead because she is in love with John Proctor


  • ‍black
  • In her 40's
  • gets blamed for everything that goes wrong
  • From Barbados
  • Slave to Reverend Parris

Thomas Putnam

  • "‍a well''-to-do, hard-handed landowner"pg.21
  • In his late forties
  • A man with many grievances (he was unfairley treated)
  • Eldest son of the richest man in the village
  • Felt superior towards others
  • Deeply interested in parish affairs

Ann Putnam

  • ‍45 years old
  • death-ridden
  • haunted by her dreams
  • Very caring

Mercy Lewis

  • ‍Slave to the Putnams
  • overweight
  • sly
  • merciless
  • was seen dancing naked around the fire


1. Finish reading Act 1 of 'The Crucible' (pp. 13 - 50) and annotate your copy of the play by:
  • Clarifying and summarising meaning
  • Highlighting key quotes
  • Making notes about points of interest for you
See my example here: Roll your mouse over the speech bubles/highlighted sections to see my notes.

I don't expect you to highlight big chunks of your book like this unless you want to, but I do expect you to make these kinds of notes either in the margin of your copy of the play or in your exercise books.

2. Help build the character profiles:
  • I have changed the wiki settings so you are all able to edit the site (please don't do anything silly like delete anyone's hard work!!)
  • As you read, keep an eye out for information about each character and fill in the information under the character profiles on 'The Crucible' page. After you have added your information, highlight the text and click the comment bubble on the tool bar. Type in your name, so I know who has contributed the information, and make sure you click save!!
3. Contribute at least one word to the glossary section of the page, following the same steps as above.

Email me if you have any questions, and have a nice break :)

AT Revision Resources

  • Remember to include the name of author and the title in your introductory paragraph
  • Remember to use 'around the title ' or underline it
  • Remember to refer to 'The Crucible' as a PLAY - it is not a novel, a book, a story or a movie!
  • Try writing on every second line of the page to leave yourself room to make changes

Your Pracitse ATs - Things to avoid

Use of clichés
A cliche is a phrase that most of us know because it is overused. Cliches are good in speech for communicating meaning in very few words. However, they are not so good in writing. They tend to make narratives boring, and in essays, they do not conform to the conventions of formal writing. It's ok to use them when you are planning or just getting down your ideas, but when you are writing your essay, you need to think of different words to use to communicate you point. Here is an example of a cliche in an essay and below I will write a possible alternative.

Cliche: Abigail's actions speak louder than words. While this is true it needs to be rephrased and explained more.
For example: Abigail says 'insert quote here', but Miller's stage directions instruct the actor to 'Quaver[ing] as she sits', 'cry[ing] to Heaven' and to 'almost collaps[ing]', which is in conflict with her words and which signals to the audience that they way Abigail presents herself to the audience may not be a true reflection of her character.

Avoid retelling the story: Your teachers and examiners know the story, and we know you know the story, so there is no need to summarise it in your essay. Talking about a particular event in the play, you shouldn't take up more than about 2 sentences. Instead, the rest of your paragraph should be exploring why the play was written that way or what that part of the play means etc...

Not using linking sentences back to the topic:
You might have written the world's best paragraph with a killer quote and explanation, but unless you make it explicit (very, very clear) how your evidence and explanation support your contention and its relationship to the essay topic, you won't get full marks. The paragraph below is pretty good (besides the lack of evidence), but the linking sentence needs to be clearer. See my suggestions below.


Linking Sentence: Similarly, Elizabeth Proctor was pressured in the same way. There is nothing wrong with this sentence, besides its placement in the paragraph. This sentence would be better as a topic sentence for the next paragraph. e.g. 'Similarly, Elizabeth Proctor was pressured by the court in the same way as her husband, John. This pressure on Elizabeth is seen when.....'

Linking Sentence: This is how Proctor's journey relates to a crucible. He was pressured into signing it and freeing his soul from eternal damnation.

A clearer linking sentence might read something like this: Pressure was placed on Proctor by the court to sign his confession in order to free his soul from eternal damnation and to allow him to keep his life. However, Proctor refused to sign the confession, because he valued his 'good name' and honesty over his life. In this way, John's journey throughout the play mirrors that of metals heated in a crucible; 'heat' in the form of pressure is applied to 'melt' John's resolve, as heat is used to melt metals in a crucible. Likewise, when enough heat is applied to melt the metals, they separate and purify, just as John's soul was purified by remaining true to himself.'

Your Practise ATs - Things you did well!

An example of a well written introduction

An example of a well written conclusion

An example of a paragraph with excellent ideas, though the writing needs a bit of work

Another example of a paragraph with excellent ideas, but it is missing the VITAL ingredient of evidence in the form of quotes
An example of a paragraph that smoothly incorporates the quote, explains it and links it back to the topic

Annotated example essay - courtesy of Ms. Annettes

Example essay - courtesy of Ms. Annettes

Dramatic Techniques Table

My thoughts on possible content for responses to the practise topics
Disclaimer: The following download should not be considered the 'right' answers to the practise AT topics. They are by no means perfect, nor are they essay plans or complete answers. Rather, they are just my 'stream of consciousness' - thoughts that came to mind when considering the topics I set for you. They are not structured, nor are all the ideas fully explored, but they may help you anyway.

The practise AT topics are available to download below:

      • Cause & Effect and Countless Conflicts**

      • Character flaws**

      • Tragic Hero**

      • Wheels in Motion**

      • Sequence of events**

      • Fill in the blanks**

      • Clerihews**

      • Stage directions & lighting worksheet**