The Crucible

Table of Contents

  • Act 1
  • Act 2
  • Act 3
  • Act 4
  • Sample Essay 1
  • Sample Essay 2
  • Sample Essay 3
  • Sample Essay 4

Act 1

  • The panic, madness, hysteria, and mystery all begins here
  • Act 1 foreshadows the key areas of conflict in The Crucible, giving readers and audience members alike a taste of the ensuing societal chaos and moral confusion
  • Act 1 in particular features chunks of narrative exposition, where Miller comments on the backstory of characters and contextualizes their relationships with each other. This is interposed with the dialogue of the characters.
  • Act 1 functions as an overture, where Miller introduces
    -The main characters
    -Their relationships and tensions
    -The context of Salem society
    -Themes that will be focused on throughout Act 2, 3, and 4
PageQuote and notes
13· Setting: Betty’s bedroom within Reverend Parris’ home, Spring of 1692
-Miller uses the stage directions to emphasize the claustrophobic and cluttered nature of the room ”small upper bedroom”, “a narrow window”, “a chest, a chair, and a small table”Spring is symbolically representative of life and growth in Salem. Yet, Miller subverts the traditional associations and positive connotations of Spring. Here, life and growth arguably are allusions to how the seeds of lies and private vengeance have already taken root within Salem society, and that now in “Spring” they are ready to emerge from the ground into full view of everyone. As they take a life of their own, this problem will grow out of control and result in many unintended consequences for innocent victims.· The introduction of Parris’ character, the first time we “meet” him
-Miller uses narrative to introduce Parris petty, power hungry, and deeply insecure nature, who “believed he was being persecuted wherever he went… he felt insulted if someone rose to shut the door without first asking his permission”-Through the opening scene, we see Parris “kneeling beside [Betty’s bed], evidently in prayer. Audience members thus begin to formulate an idea of Parris as a religious yet deeply self-centered man. He prays “God help me”, not for Betty.
14· Miller describes Salem society as being full of being nosey, concerning oneself with neighbours’ activities for the purpose of comparing who is more moral, catching neighbours out for violating social, or moral norms.
-“The prediliction for minding other people’s business was time-honored among the people of Salem, and it undoubtedly created many of the suspicions which were to feed the coming madness”
15· Act 1 begins immediately after Reverend Parris caught Abigail and the girls in the forest. In theocratic Salem society, this is extremely taboo. What the girls did, dancing and being in the forest, is considered a violation of social, religious, moral, and legal norms.
“the Salem folk believed that the virgin forest was the Devil’s last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand”
16· Despite good, honorable, and noble way of running society in a way that enhances a sense of community unity, this theocratic ideology and the dogma associated with it

-“For good purposes, even high purposes, the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction”

· Extending the metaphor of Spring, life, and growth: The witch hunt was a product of moral panic and suspicion among neighbours in Salem society
-“The witch hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in

17· Miller clearly establishes the deep seated sense of moral confusion within Salem society at the time. Members of Salem society did bad things (accuse innocent people of being witches) while pretending to be good (they claim that they are doing their duty as a Christian).
-Once the witch hunt began, it “suddenly became possible – and patriotic and holy” to accuse innocent people of egregious crimes
-As part of the witch hunt process, “long-held hatreds of neighbours could now be openly expressed, and vengeance taken, despite the Bible’s charitable injunctions”· Jealousy, vengeance, desire for revenge, self-interest, hatred of neighbours who are perceived as more moral, powerful, or religious: This was at the core of the tension in Salem and precipitated the disastrous downward spiral of the witch hunt.
-In reality, the witch hunt was about “suspicions and envy of the miserable toward the happy”
18· Introduction of Abigail’s character through the stage directions. Miller also introduces readers to the idea of Abigail’s self-interested, manipulative, and deceitful nature through this stage directions.
-Miller describes her as “a strikingly beautiful girl”
-Abigail has “an endless capacity for dissembling. Now, she is all worry and apprehension and propriety”· Parris initially is hesitant to use witchcraft as an explanation for Betty’s illness
-“There be no unnatural cause here… Mr Hale will surely confirm that. Let him look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here”
19· Parris’ petty, power hungry, and deeply insecure nature is brought out again. He is apparently obsessed with the idea that other people are plotting in the background to ruin him.
-“If you trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it
-“do you understand I have many enemies?”
-“there is a faction that is sworn to drive me from my pulpit”· Abigail’s story of what happened in the forest, version 1
-“Betty’s not witched.”
-“we never conjured spirits”
-“it were sport!”
19-20· First signs of witchcraft, as told by Parris
-“I saw Tituba waving her arms over the fire when I came on you. Why was she doing that? And I heard a screeching and gibberish coming from her mouth. She were swaying like a dumb beast over that fire!”
20· Parris rushes to defend his own reputation, rather than earnestly care for Betty. This reveals where his true priorities are.
-“Now my ministry’s at stake
-“now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character
20-21· Abigail’s past misdeeds come to light
“[Abigail’s name] in the town – it is entirely white, is it not?”
-We learn that Abigail was “discharged from Goody Proctor’s service”
-Furthermore, Goody Proctor “will not sit so close to something so soiled”· Abigail fiercely defends her own reputation by maligning Goody Proctor in response-Goody Proctor is a “bitter woman, a lying, cold, snivelling woman”
-Abigail insists “my name is good in the village!”
-“Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar!”
21-24· The Putnams enter — notice how they are persistent in advocating for the presence of witchcraft in Salem, they insist that Betty’s and Ruth’s illness is due to witchcraft
-“It is surely a stroke of hell upon you”
-“the Devil’s touch is heavier than sick”
-She is described as speaking “with vicious certainty” here· Furthermore, Thomas Putnam is described in the stage directions as
-a “well-to-do, hard-handed landowner”
-Thomas Putnam “regarded himself as the intellectual superior” and was known for his“vindictive nature”, and being “a deeply embittered man”.· In response to the Putnams’ insistence of witchcraft, Parris doubles down
-“I am certain there be no element of witchcraft here”
-“we cannot leap to witchcraft”· In spite of Parris’ objections, the Putnams continue to insinuate that witchcraft is involved and perpetuate the sense of fear.
-“Tituba knows how to speak to the dead”
-“There is a murdering witch among us, bound to keep herself in the dark!”· Abigail’s story of what happened in the forest, version 2
-“Not I, sir — Tituba and Ruth [conjured spirits]”. Notice that Abigail is “whispering” this line
25-26· The Putnams and Parris have left the room, leaving Abigail, Betty, Mercy and Mary Warren alone.

· Notice how Abigail’s demeanour changes: while she was acting as a powerless victim before, now she is putting on a front of an aggressive, assertive leader.
-Abigail’s aggression: “[Abigail] shakes [Betty]” and commands Betty, “Now stop this! Betty! Sit up now!”
-“Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning”

· Abigail’s assertive leadership style: She tells the other girls exactly what to say, she reports and updates them about what the current situation is
-“If they be questioning us, tell them we danced — I told him as much already”
-“[Parris] knows Tituba conjured Ruth’s sisters to come out of the grave”

· What happened in the forest according to Abigail, version 3: “Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all.”

· The story of what happened in the forest, from Betty’s perspective
-“You drank blood Abby!”
– “You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!”

27-30· John Proctor enters, Mary and Mercy leave the room. While Betty is pretending to be unconscious, John and Abigail have a conversation about “this mischief here”

· What happened in the forest according to Abigail, version 4: In front of Proctor, Abigail dismisses the seriousness of what the girls did in the forest
-“we were dancin’ in the woods last night, and my uncle leaped in on us. [Betty] took fright, is all”.

· Miller’s use of narrative exposition to tell us about Proctor’s background and character
-Proctor “had a sharp and biting way with hypocrites”.
-“a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct”
-someone who “has come to regard himself as kind of fraud”.

· While Proctor and Abigail talk, she is persistent in pursuing a romantic and sexual relationship with him.

-“winningly she comes a little closer, with a confidential, wicked air”
-She all but begs Proctor, “John – I am waitin’ for you every night”
-“John, pity me, pity me!”

· Abigail’s deep seated sense of repression in a highly dogmatic and pious religious society fuels her rebellion against social and moral norms of Salem
-“I never knew what pretence Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by these Christian women and their covenanted men!”

30-37· Parris, Putnams, and the Nurses re-enter the room. Abigail and Proctor have just finished their conversation, Betty has woken up

· The Putnams continue to advance their point of view
-“that is a notorious sign of witchcraft afoot”
“mark it for a sign, mark it!”
· As if to juxtapose the Putnams who are “feverish with curiosity” and are adamant about witchcraft, the Rebecca Nurse enters the scene.
-“everything is quiet… Gentleness exudes from her”
-She advises Parris “I hope you are not decided to go in search of loose spirits”
-And also she argues that “there is a prodigious danger in the seeking of loose spirits”.

· Miller’s use of narrative exposition demonstrates the Nurses’ character
-they “enjoyed the high opinion [of Salem society”
-but “there were those who resented [their] rise”.

· As if to solidify the enmity between the Putnams and Nurses, Mrs Putnam sarcastically states “you think it God’s work you should never lose a child, nor a grandchild either, and I bury all but one?”

· Parris’ self-interested and calculative nature pops up again

“I am not some preaching farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College”
“I am not used to this poverty; I left a thrifty business in the Barbados to serve the Lord”

37-50· Reverend Hale enters. The more the small room fills up with people, the more tense the situation becomes.
-As Rebecca Nurse leaves the room, this symbolically represents the departure of wisdom, goodness, and grace. There is a very rapid spiral out of control as social hysteria sets in and innocent victims are accused of being witches. · Hale is introduced with a lengthy narrative exposition.
-Hale “felt the pride of a specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for”.
– “[Hale’s] painfully acquired armoury of symptoms, catchwords, and diagnostic procedures are not to be put to use at last”.
-“[Hale’s] goal is light, goodness, and its preservation”
-Hale first “appears loaded down with half a dozen heavy books”
-Like Parris, Hale initially insists, “we cannot look to superstition in this”.· Yet the Putnams remain persistent. They keep nudging Hale to notice witchcraft, and they persistently contribute anecdotal evidence so as to “subtly” influence Hale to notice witchcraft
-“she cannot bear to hear the Lord’s name… that’s a sure sign of witchcraft afloat”
-“Mr Parris’ slave has knowledge of conjurin’”
-“Is it a natural work to lose seven children before they live a day?”· Giles, though completely innocent, also adds fuel to the steadily growing fire. He contributes a story about his wife who causes “the stoppage of prayer” while she reads her “books”· Parris’ suddenly changes his mind and insists that witchcraft is involved because “It is the best the Devil wants, and who is better than the minister?”· Hale begins to interrogate Abigail.
-“perhaps some bird invisible to others comes to you”
-“you cannot evade me, Abigail”· Abigail’s account of what happened in the forest, version 5
-“I’m a good girl! I’m a proper girl!”
– “[Tituba] made me do it! She made Betty do it!”
– “She makes me drink blood!”
– “She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer!”· The spiral out of control keeps gaining momentum
-Parris threatens Tituba “you will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death!”
-Putnam announces in a dramatic fashion, “this woman must be hanged!”· Hale gives Tituba a way out of the confrontation
– “Open yourself, Tituba – open yourself and let God’s holy light shine on you”
-“You are God’s instrument put in our hands to discover the Devil’s agents among us. You are selected… you are chosen to help us cleanse our village”· To cement the sense of social hysteria that is rapidly accelerating out of control, Abigail similarly detects a new way out of the situation she is in.
-Abigail pretends that “I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book” but now “I go back to Jesus; I kiss his hand”.· Following that, all the girls start “picking up the chant”, with their “ecstatic cries” which are “rising to a great gleedenouncing women of Salem.Miller is careful to detail that the girls are in fact “calling out with great relief

Act 2

  • Focuses on Proctor and Elizabeth’s fractured relationship
  • More and more innocent people are being accused and arrested for witchcraft
PageQuotes and Notes
51-55
  • Setting: The Proctor household, 8 days after Act 1 endedMiller is careful to include that Act 2 begins “eight days later”
  • Through the Proctors’ interactions with each other, we see a glaring lack of intimacy in their fractured relationship:
    -Proctor is still feeling remorseful about his affair with Abigail and tries to make amends.
    He asks Elizabeth “how would that please you?”
    – “I think you’re sad again. Are you?”
    -Elizabeth tries to demonstrate that she forgives Proctor, but her cold demeanor betrays her true feelings towards him
    -“He gets up, goes to her, kisses her. She receives it” and “A sense of their separation arises”
  • Elizabeth and Proctor argue about how to deal with their slave, Mary Warren, and how to proceed with the false allegations in the witch hunt.
    -“[Mary Warren] raises up her chin like the daughter of a prince
    -“Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks, the crowd will part like the sea for Israel.”
  •  Elizabeth’s lines help to contextualize what has happened following the girls’ accusations in Act 1.
    -“It is a proper court they have now”
    -“The court have power to hang them”
  • Proctor launches into a barrage of insults at his wife for her lack of forgiveness to him – this emotional outburst suggests his pent up frustration. Proctor is frustrated about his wife, his previous misdeeds, and the situation in Salem.
    -“You forget nothin’ and forgive nothin’.”
    – “I think to please you, and still an everlasting funeral marches round your heart. I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house!”
    -”Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer
55-59
  • Mary Warren enters the Proctor household from a day of being a witness in court
    Mary Warren goes to Elizabeth with a small rag doll
  • Mary brings news of what is happening in the court, to the horror of readers, audience members, and the Proctors.
    -”Goody Osburn – will hang!”
    -”But not Sarah Good. For Sarah Good confessed”

Mary tries to assert her power and dominance over the Proctors
“I told you the proof. It’s hard proof, hard as a rock”
“I will be gone every day now. I am amazed you do not see what weighty work we do.”
“You must see it, sir, it’s God’s work we do”
striving for her way”, Mary insists, “The Devil’s loose in Salem, Mr Proctor; we must

  • discover where he’s hiding”
  • Mary reveals that Elizabeth Proctor has been “somewhat mentioned” in court
59-61
  • Mary Warren goes to her room, leaving the Proctors “wide eyed” with utter shock and horror at how quickly the witch trials have progressed. Now that Elizabeth has been accused, Proctor has a greater personal incentive to reveal the truth about the witch trials.
    -Elizabeth is quick to recognize that Abigail has accused her because Abigail “thinks to kill [Elizabeth], then to take [Elizabeth’s] place”
    -Elizabeth’s line “the noose, the noose is up!” dramatically foreshadows her imminent arrest and imprisonment, as well as Proctor’s death.
61-67
  • Reverend Hale visits the Proctors
    -”I come of my own, without the court’s authority”
    -”I am a stranger here, as you know. And in my ignorance I find it hard to draw a clear opinion of them that come accused before the court”
    -”My duty is to add what I may to the godly wisdom of the court”
    -“the powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack upon this village. There is too much evidence now to deny it”
  • Proctor tells Hale that “Abigail Williams told [him] it had naught to do with witchcraft!”
  • Regarding Elizabeth being accused of witchcraft
    -Proctor is quick to defend Elizabeth “a woman that never lied, and cannot, and the whole world knows she cannot!”
    -Elizabeth defends herself, “I cannot think the Devil may own a woman’s soul, Mr Hale, when she keeps an upright way, as I have…. If you believe I may do only good work in the world, and yet be secretly bound to Satan, then I must tell you, sir, I do not believe it”.
67-74
  • Giles and Francis enter, bringing alarming news
    -Martha has been arrested and “Rebecca’s in the jail”
    – Rebecca “is the very brick and mortar of the church”
    – “there cannot be a woman closer yet to God than Martha”
  • Hale persists in believing “we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships
  • The court marshall Cheever brings a warrant for Elizabeth
    – “I find here a poppet Goody Proctor keeps… And in the belly of the poppet a needle’s stuck”
    -While Abigail was having dinner with Parris, “without word nor warnin’, she falls to the floor… stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, [Parris drew] a needle out”
    -Abigail “testify it were [Elizabeth’s] familiar spirit pushed it in”
    -Despite Mary Warren’s statement that “[She] made [the poppet] in the court… and – give it to Goody Proctor”, the court marshals arrest Elizabeth
  • Proctor, burst outs emotionally in disbelief
    -Proctor calls Hale “a broken minister” and “a coward”
  • Proctor’s next few lines summarize the core of the witch hunt
    -”Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy

now?

-”I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem – vengeance is walking Salem… now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”

  • Hale insinuates that the witch trial is a sign of Salem society’s sin
    -”Let you counsel among yourselves; think on your village and what may have drawn from heaven such thundering wrath upon you all”
74-75
  • Proctor is determined to free Elizabeth
    -he enlists the help of Mary Warren “you’re coming to the court with me, Mary. You will tell it in the court”
  • Mary Warren foreshadows what will happen in Act 3
    -“Abby’ll charge lechery on you
    -“[Abigail will] ruin you with it, I know she will”
  • Proctor makes some astute observations about Salem society
    -”Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretence is ripped away
    -”we are what we always were, but naked now
    -”the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow!”

Act 3

  • In Act 3, several characters, Giles Corey, Francis Nurse, and John Proctor, try to bring counter-evidence before the court to prove that their wives are innocent. This is to no avail, all these men end up being held in contempt of court or being accused of something or the other. Also, their wives do not get released from prison.
  • In order to clear Elizabeth’s name, Proctor admits in court that he had an affair with Abigail. He explains that since Elizabeth kicked Abigail out of the Proctor household, Abigail has a grudge against Elizabeth.
  • However, Proctor’s attempt to save Elizabeth backfires in a dramatic way
  • Elizabeth ends up lying about Proctor having the affair with Abigail thinking it would help John
  • Abigail and the girls manipulate Mary Warren to betray John Proctor by pretending that there is a yellow bird, which is Mary’s spirit, out to attack them
  • Hale quits the court by the end of Act 3
  • Readers and audience members question the justice behind these trials
  • Key themes: Moral confusion between good and evil, truth and deceit, the notion of evidence, justice

 

PageQuotes and Notes
77-80
  • Setting: “the vestry room of the Salem meeting house”, a week after the events in Act 2
    voices of the townspeople rise in excitementSalem neighbours have come to witness the spectacle of the witch trials, and they do so as a perverted form of entertainment. By now, hysteria has fully taken hold in Salem.

 

  • Defending Martha Corey
    “I am innocent to a witch. I know not what a witch is.”
    “Thomas Putnam is reaching out for land!”
    “I have evidence. Why will you not hear my evidence?
  • Francis Nurse states “We have proof… they are all deceiving you.”
  • These men fight to no avail to prove their wives’ innocence.
    -Hathorne commands “Remove that man!” and suggests, “I think [Francis and Giles] must both be arrested in contempt” for simply trying to bring in counter-evidence to prove Martha and Rebecca are good people
    -Danforth reprimands Giles for causing “a contemptuous riot” in the courtroom
  • Danforth’s ulterior motives for refusing to hear counter evidence regarding the innocence of “witches” is made clear
    -Danforth emphasizes his superior role in the theocratic justice system and position of power over Salem by questioning Francis Nurse in a round-about, condescending way, “do you know who I am?”.

-Furthermore, Danforth states the statistic that “seventy-two condemned to hang by [his] signature”

80-84
  • Giles, Proctor, and Mary Warren enter
  • Mary tells Danforth “she never saw no spirits” — in doing so, she betrays Abigail and the other girls
  • Parris joins in with Hathorne and Danforth in discrediting the account of anyone who deviates from the pre-established narrative
    -“Beware this man [Proctor], Your Excellency, this man is mischief.”
    -“They’ve come to overthrow the court!”
  • Danforth re-states the basis on which the courts have been convened
    “the entire contention of the state in the trials is that the voice of Heaven is speaking through the children”
    -“We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment”
  • Proctor steps up to try and defend Elizabeth, only for his Christian character be called into question
    -Parris and Cheever try to discredit Proctor in the eyes of the court — they attempt to use evidence that “[Proctor has] once or twice ploughed on Sunday”, and that he “will not come to church but once a month!”
    -Hale attempts to help Proctor “I think you may not judge the man on such evidence”
  • Proctor’s bravery and courage to help the people he loves is admirable
    -”These are my friends.
84-86
  • Proctor presents “a sort of testament. The people signing it declare their good opinion of Rebecca, [Elizabeth], and Martha Corey”
    -This petition has “ninety one signatures”, Francis Nurse personally promised the signatories that “no harm would come to them for signing this”

 

  • Parris scoffs at “their good opinion!”, insisting “these people should be summoned. For questioning.”
  • Parris continues to delegitimize Proctor, Francis, and Giles’ counter evidence by claiming “All innocent and Christian people are happy for the courts in Salem! These people are gloomy for it”
  • Danforth in turn emphasizes this idea
    “A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.”
86-89
  • Giles gives his deposition in which he accuses Putnam.
    -”[Putnam] coldly prompted [Ruth] to cry witchery upon George Jacobs that is now in jail”
    -“If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up his property – that’s law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbours for their land!
  • Parris insists on Giles revealing the identity of the unnamed “honest man who heard Putnam say… the day his daughter cried out on Jacobs, he said she’d given him a fair gift of land!”
  • Yet Giles refuses to betray the confidence of that “honest man” because “he’ll lay in jail if [Giles] give his name”
  • Parris blows this situation out of proportion, turning this into a conspiracy to overthrow the court
    “The Devil lives on such confidences!”
  • Hale tries to stand up for Giles to talk sense into Parris, Hathorne and Danforth by saying “there is a prodigious fear of this court in the country
  • Danforth sides with Parris
    -Off the back of what Hale said about “a prodigious fear of this court”, Danforth maintains “then there is a prodigious guilt in the country”
    -This is blown out of proportion again, “there is fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!”

 

  • Miller uses Giles’ violent outburst to reinforce the sense of moral confusion and panic that this hysterical witch trial has caused → It’s not about who’s good or who’s bad anymore; the play makes a comment on the fact that all individuals have the propensity to turn to evil depending on the external circumstances
    “I’ll cut your throat, Putnam, I’ll kill you yet!”
89-91
  • Mary Warren reveals the truth and is interrogated for it
    “She swears now that she never saw Satan; nor any spirit, vague or clear, that Satan may have sent to hurt her. And she declares her friends are lying now.”

Danforth threatens Mary “you are either lying now, or you were lying in the court, and in either case you have committed perjury and you will go to jail for it”

  • Hale starts to express his concerns
    “I have this morning signed away the soul of Rebecca Nurse, Your Honor. I’ll not conceal it, my hand shakes yet as with a wound”
  • Danforth states the court’s logic
    “Witchcraft is ipso facto… an invisible crime”
    “We cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims – and they do testify, the children certainly do testify.”
91-97
  • Susanna, Mercy, Betty, and Abigail enter to verify Mary’s claims
  • Despite Danforth repeatedly calling the girls “children”, he and the court continue to place an enormous amount of trust in them
    “It may well be that Mary Warren has been conquered by Satan, who sends her here to distract our sacred purpose”
  • Parris unknowingly articulates the absurdity behind the hysterical witch trials
    “We are here, Your Honor, precisely to discover what no one has ever seen.”
  • Parris demands that Mary faint on command

“Now there are no spirits attacking her, for none in this room is accused of witchcraft. So let her turn herself cold now, let her pretend she is attacked now, let her faint. Faint!”

  • Mary continues to assert the truth
    “It were only sport in the beginning, sir, but then the whole world cried spirits, spirits”
  • Danforth questions Abigail, and she just deflects
    “Is it possible, child, that the spirits you have seen are illusions only, some deception that may cross your mind”
    “I have been hurt… I have seen my blood runnin’ out! I have been near to murdered every day because I done my duty pointing out the Devil’s people”

“Let you beware, Mr Danforth. Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits? Beware of it!”

 

  • Abigail pretends that Mary’s evil spirit is attacking her
    “A wind, a cold wind, has come. [Her eyes fall on Mary Warren]
    Abigail calls out to God “Oh Heavenly Father, take away this shadow!”
97-100
  • Proctor’s emotional outburst is the beginning of his own downfall
    “How do you call Heaven! Whore!” → As a morally upright Christian, he can’t stand it when Abigail calls out to God. However, he inadvertently reveals his own sin in naming Abigail “whore”Proctor confirms “[Abigail] thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave.”“It is a whore’s vengeance, and you must see it; I set myself entirely in your hands. I know you must see it now”“I have rung the doom of my good name” → Even Proctor cares about his own reputation. This foreshadows Proctor’s imminent downward spiral.
  • Elizabeth is called in to confirm whether Abigail and Proctor had an affair
    Proctor guarantees “in her life, sir, she have never lied… my wife cannot lie”
  • However, Elizabeth insists “my husband – is a goodly man sir” when she is put on the spot
  • Catalyzes a cacophony of activity
    “She only thought to save my name!”
    “I may shut my conscience to it no more – private vengeance is working through [Abigail’s] testimony!”
101-105
  • Abigail pretends that there’s a “yellow bird” that is attacking her, and says that this is Mary’s evil spirit
    “Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape”
    With a weird, wild, chilling cry”, “Frightened eyes, her awed face”, “She is transfixed”, “Whimpering open-mouthed, agape at the ceiling”, “In a genuine conversation with the ‘bird’ as though trying to talk it out of attacking her”
  • In doing so, Abigail manages to get Mary to betray John

“He come at me by night and every day to sign, to sign”

  • Proctor’s fate is sealed
    “Will you confess yourself befouled with Hell, or do you keep that black allegiance yet? What say you?”
    “I say – God is dead!”
    “You are pulling Heaven down and raising up a whore!”
  • Hale’s condemnation of the court is decisive, but far too late
    “I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!”

Act 4

  • Tituba and Sarah Good are in jail → consider why these two witnesses are jailed, but the children enjoy an elevated status and are treated like royalty by the court? Justice has not been equally applied to everyone!
  • Society is in chaos at this stage
  • Proctor’s character development
    -Initially he provides a spoken confession that he’s involved with witchcraft
    -When he’s under pressure to sign a written statement, he refuses, due to issues concerning his reputation, and his loyalty to his friends
    -Most importantly, he reflects about the legacy this will leave for his children if he admits to witchcraft
  • Ultimately he rips up the confession and dies by hanging
PageQuotes and Notes
107-110
  • Descend into madness – Tituba and Sarah Good seem to be deranged and delusional
    “We goin’ to Barbados, soon the Devil gits here with the feathers and the wings”
  • Society is also in chaos “a bellowing cow is heard”
    There be so many cows wanderin’ the highroads, now their masters are in the jails, and much disagreement who they will belong to now”
110-114
  • Hale persuades the imprisoned to confess to witchcraft to save them
    “He pleads with them, confess their crimes and save their lives”
  • Abigail has skipped town
    “I cannot think they would run off except they fear to keep in Salem anymore”
  • Parris pleads with the court authorities to hold off punishments“It were another sort that hanged till now. Rebecca Nurse is no Bridget that lived three year with Bishop before she married him. John Proctor is not Isaac Ward that drank his family to ruin… these people have great weight yet in the town”“Tonight, when I open my door to leave my house – a dagger clattered to the ground… Ui cannot hang this sort. There is danger for me.”
  • Danforth remains resolute“There be no postponement”“I cannot pardon these when twelve have already hanged for the same crime. It is not just.”“Them that will not confess will hang… Postponement now speaks floundering on my part.”
114-117
  • Hale makes his case“There are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlot’s cry will end his life”“There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head!”
  • Hale pleads with Elizabeth, tries to persuade her to convince Proctor to save himself“Life, woman, life is God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it”

“I would save your husband’s life, for if he is taken I count myself his murderer”

“I have sought a Christian way, for damnation’s doubled on a minister who counsels men to lie”

“I came into this village like a bridesgroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up.”

117-120
  • Proctor and Elizabeth have some time alone together, the first time since Act 2 when Elizabeth was arrested
  • Proctor confides in Elizabeth
    “I have been thinking I would confess to them”
    “What would you have me do?”
    “I would have your forgiveness, Elizabeth”
  • Proctor acknowledges that he has sins and he is not a perfect person
    “I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint”
    “My honesty is broke…. I am no good man. Nothing’s spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before”
    “God in Heaven, what is John Proctor”
    “I am no saint… Let Rebecca go like a saint; for me it is fraud!”
  • Elizabeth finally takes some responsibility for Proctor’s affair
    “It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery”
    “I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me! Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should say my love. It were a cold house I kept”
120-126
  • Proctor gives his spoken confession, but Danforth pushes him to condemn others
    “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another… I have no tongue for it”
  • On top of the spoken confession, Danforth requires him to sign it. Proctor refuses.“You have all witnessed it; what more is needed?”

“Damn this village! I Confess to God, and God has seen my name on this! It is enough!”

“God does not need my name nailed upon the church! God sees my name; God knows how black my sins are!”

“How may I teach [my sons] to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?”

 

“What others say and what I sign to is not the same!”

 

“It is my name! … Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang!… I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”

Sample Essay 1: The Crucible suggests that conformity leads to corruption. Discuss.

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