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Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"

Author Info
Other Works and Time Period
Interview and Survey
Vocab & Quotes
Related Topics and Other Sites
Literary Devices
Scene Summaries
Theme and Character Analysis
Personal Impressions
Discussion Results
Personal Impressions

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Scene 1:

1. The main action in this scene revolves around Betty’s mysterious bed-ridden composure and the people coming to visit her. Reverend Parris is there to help her, give her God’s word, and look after her. Abigail, the seventeen-year-old orphan is there to visit her too. It comes to play that Abigail and Betty had been dancing in the forest the night before, and it is known to a few that what they were doing in that forest may be the reason Betty is in her current vegetable state. Parris studies her and Abigail, allowing in a few comments from Mrs. Putnam. Mrs. Putnam believes it to be witchery, which opens up the next scene.

2. I believe the significance of this scene is that it opens up the situation with Betty, Abigail, and the current belief of witches and witchcraft in the town they live in. Without this scene, there would be no introduction to what is going on in the story and also no introduction to the characters. It allows readers to start off with no knowledge of what is going on and enables them to begin understanding after the first page. This scene is the layout for the following pages.

3. A few questions arose within this scene, such as: What has caused Parris to become a Reverend in his past? What made him give up his past and successful business to work for the Lord? Also, how has the town become so superstitious over the years? Was it only the word of others that spread around and convinced the townspeople, or was there actual evidence that was exaggerated?

4. Parris: "Now, Goody Ann, they only thought that were a witch, and I am certain there be no element of witchcraft here."

I enjoyed reading this quote mainly because it gives more character to Parris and shows that he has a mind of his own. He is not convinced by the common townspeople that such a superstition is the cause of this young girl’s ailment. I like the fact that he is independent, and also convincing to the others to make them stop talking about witchcraft and fearing it.

5. Mr. Parris was the character I most focused on in this scene, mainly because he was so intriguing. He was able to keep his mind where it should be and also not be convinced by what so many other people were saying to him. It amazed me how he was so independent and trusting, and also so faithful in the Lord. I liked the way he handled the other’s reactions to the poor girl and the current superstition floating around in the town’s air. He gave others hope and helped others be less fearful of the girl and the situation. When he verbally fought back at the others in the room, it was intriguing and interesting the words he said and the way he said them. He said everything with such confidence and security that everything he had said was convincing to me.

6. Tituba, the Negro slave of Mr. Parris, is quite an intriguing character herself. In this scene, she is fairly unknown and not described fully. The way she is so concerned about Betty is what makes her interesting. Abigail and Tituba both share a concern for the young, bed-ridden girl. The way Tituba says, "My Betty..." is closely related to the way Abigail is concerned and stays at the bed side. However, Abigail and Mr. Parris fairly clash when Abigail backs him into a wall with his questions and is fairly stubborn with her answers. Most of the scene is the bantering between the two. However, when Mrs. Putnam enters, she also clashes with Parris because she is so stubborn with her ideas of witchcraft.

7. Betty: Here I am, so lost and sick, I don’t know what to do or say. I’m so confused, I’m feeling so many things. So many people are around me, looking at me, praying for me, accusing me. I hear Goody Putnam talking about how I am possessed by witchcraft or perhaps even the Devil. I don’t know what I’m going through, but I know it’s not right and these people will know it. They’ll know as soon as I can find the strength to tell them, to show them. They’ll all see what’s really happening here, with all of us; with Tituba, and Abigail, and Mercy. We’ll let them know as soon as we can.

Scene 2:

1. The action of this scene involves Betty’s quick dash off the bed and Mercy and Abigail’s conversation thereof. Mercy begins off with a secret conversation between the two and suddenly betty darts off the bed, almost scared of Abigail, and flattens herself against the wall, screaming "I want my mama!" She then attempts to "fly to Mama" by squeezing one leg out the window, prepared to jump. Abigail prevents her from doing so and calms her down, at least from jumping out the window. From there, the two scream at each other about the events that happened the previous night. Abigail smacks Betty on the face after she yells about Abigail’s drinking of a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife. They then decided what to tell the others and John Proctor walks in, interrupting their meeting.

2. I think the significance of this scene is plainly the fact that all the girl’s actions that night were revealed, and so were their lies to Parris, Mrs. Putnam, and others. The story would be much different if these things hadn’t been revealed because it wouldn’t allow the reader to know the actual truth about what had happened that night and who was actually involved.

3. I don’t quite understand why Betty is acting that way, and why she was so suddenly awakened when the girls were talking about the occurrences. It seems like she is faking her ailment or even faking the whole thing. Also, I don’t understand where Ruth comes in the picture. Was she a big part of the situation that night? Is she and Betty suffering from the same thing? Are they working together to create a fake negativity within the town?

4. Mercy: "I’d fear no more, Goody Putnam. It were a grand sneeze; another like it will shake her wits together, I’m sure."

This quote and the feeling around it felt fairly humorous to me. Talking about such a great sneeze is fairly lighter than the current situation. Also, it gives the idea that perhaps she is faking it or that Mercy is covering up for her. Her sure statement of "another like it will shake her wits together" feels fairly foolish like she could be lying.

5. I like the way Abigail stands up for herself and her friends. She takes charge and shows her independence. It’s fairly amusing how she comes up with quick things to say to the ones who ask her questions and how she comes up with stories or excuses to what Parris saw. She is a good liar and therefore a good actress to those who are oblivious. She also has a way of controlling people, like Mercy and Mary. She had a way of convincing them that things were going to be ok and a way of telling them what to do and say. However, she was too forceful with Betty by hitting her when she repeated what had happened that night.

6. I’m a little confused about the relationship between the four girls, Abigail, Mercy, Betty, and Mary. They seem like close friends but then again they seem to have a leader, Abigail. She seems to control the others like they have no minds of their own. Mary is too quiet and pressured, and Mercy is too afraid to stand up to Abigail. All three girls seem confused now about their relationship and about the occurrence the night before.

7. Mary: I know Betty is going to die, but Abigail won’t listen. I think she secretly knows it too. It’s a sin to conjure up the dead, and that’s exactly what we did. She won’t listen to me though, she tells me to be quiet but she knows it. See, now Betty is paying for what we did and so is young Ruth. Everyone is paying for what we did and it’s all our fault. I wish Abby would listen to me and realize what’s happening instead of hiding behind that stubborn and forceful mask she has on at the moment.

Scene 3:

1. The scene’s action revolves around Betty, once again, and her unanimous wailing. She sits up in her bed and begins screaming when the psalm is being sung in the background by Parris and the others. Abigail tries to calm her down and Proctor becomes agitated at what’s going on. He becomes confused and frustrated with the screaming and the odd mannerisms of the girl. However, before her sudden action, Abigail and Proctor were talking up a storm with her feelings for him and their past relationship together. Proctor no longer wants to cheat with Abigail, but she will not have any of it. She is in love with him and she won’t take no for an answer.

2. The significance of this scene is mainly that it allows the reader to become more familiar with the characters and what is happening with Betty, and also the introduction of Abigail’s past with John Proctor. The story would be different without this scene because Abigail wouldn’t be as detailed and also some intentions of hers wouldn’t exist. Knowing the fact that she was once the mistress of John Proctor helps shape the story a little more.

3. What exactly happened between Proctor and Abigail? Were they intertwined for a long time beforehand? Is that why she is so hooked on him? Does his wife know of this affair or is she oblivious? Also, why are the townspeople so rude to each other? Was it acceptable at this time to tell each other to "Shut it" or "Be quiet?" Were people less concerned about attitudes than they are now?

4. Abigail: "And you must. You are no wintry man. I know you, John. I know you. I cannot sleep for dreamin’; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you comin’ through some door."

This quote really explains how Abigail feels about this married man. She feels she knows him and she even thinks about him in sleep. It shows that she loves him, or perhaps it is only lust. Her infatuation with him is unhealthy, and is getting nowhere. This quote overall explains the whole situation with Abigail’s feelings, past, and inner thoughts.

5. I think Proctor is a confused man because of what he has done. He had an affair with this young, seventeen-year-old and now he is refusing to so much as touch her. He fights with her and yells at her, becoming more angry as time goes by. This is overall surprising to see happening with a married cheater. After not seeing his "mistress" for seven months, it would be common for him to have another affair with her. But, he must feel guilty for what he has done or perhaps his feelings for his wife have become more evident in those seven months. Overall, Proctor was a pretty interesting character in this scene.

7. Abigail: I love him, with everything I have, but he won’t come to me again. He thinks about me, this I am sure, but he will not so much as touch me or even talk to me in a straight tone of voice. He has become bitter, and loving of his wife, which is unusual. He calls me a child, but I believe he knows better. He sure knew better seven months ago when what we had was real. He says what we had is done with, but I think he knows something deeper in his mind that he wants but is too coward to take. He knew I hoped for him and longed for him, but he refuses to let me know he felt the same. This whole situation is confusing; if only I knew what to do.

Scene 4:

1. The action arises when the four men, Parris, Putnam, Proctor, and Giles, begin tailing each other in insults and questioning. The confrontation begins when the talk of Reverend Hale’s arrival begins to upset Proctor. Putnam stands up for the Reverend, and Parris agrees with him. However, the scuffle continues with thoughts of witchcraft and the Devil’s powers. Proctor and Parris continue to clash as the play continues, but Giles receives a different opinion of Parris, one that he feels he has "so much iron" in him.

2. I think the significance of this scene is that of explaining the character’s relationships, like that of Parris and Proctor, and that of Parris and Giles, and also that of Putnam and Giles. Their agreements and disagreements both allow the reader to further understand the plot and its characters. Without this scene, the reader wouldn’t understand to such detail the differences and similiarities of the men, and also the involvement of Rebecca and Mrs. Putnam.

3. I only have one question for this scene, and that is why are all the men so hostile to each other? I understand that disagreements will occur, but the continuous occurrences between them are almost too much to bare.

4. Parris: "I want a mark of confidence, is all! I am your third preacher in seven years. I do not wish to be put out like the cat whenever some majority feels the whim. You people seem not to comprehend that a minister is the Lord’s man in the parish; a minister is not to be so lightly crossed and contradicted."

I believe this quote furthers my education and understanding of Parris. However, it sounds like he feels as if he, himself is high and mighty like the Lord and should be treated as a king. He sounds very conceited and selfish here, although that may not be his character at all. It is understandable that he feels that having so many different ministers is disrespectful to those who have come and gone, but he should not hold himself on such high pedestal only because he works for the Lord.

5. I think the end of this scene where the men are arguing over land was fairly humorous. I think they all need to get over things that have happened in the past. They all seem like a bunch of young boys that are arguing over a toy that was given away, and they need to grow up and see the bigger picture of life and what it beholds. Instead of threatening and yelling at each other, they should be embracing what is happening, working together to form a sort of union for townspeople, and stop acting childish.

6. As mentioned before, Proctor, Giles, Putnam, and Parris all need to configure a different type of relationship for the four of them. They need to grow up and stop fighting as children would, and embrace what is happening. They all need to realize the current situations and stop dwelling on the past, such as when Giles land was willed away by Putnam’s grandfather. Mistakes made in the past are controlling what is currently happening in the story and they need to get a grip on life and stop acting this way.

Scene 5:

1. In this scene, Hale arrives in Salem in request of Mr. Parris. The action arises when he comes up to Betty and starts questioning and talking to the others. Nothing major happens in this scene, but the suspense builds up while he asks Parris of first signs of the Devil and even talks to Mrs. Putnam about her seven dead childbirths. Hale gives off a strong characterization throughout this scene while he builds up a lot of suspense and thrill.

2. The significance of this scene is Hale’s arrival and appearance as a strong and smart individual. Without this scene, Hale would not have arrived to help out the townspeople and help Parris in his search to help the poor girl in bed. It also gives the townspeople hope for a ridding of witchcraft or the Devil’s presence.

3. How is Hale so popular if he hadn’t had so much experience in his past? He said that he was never much appreciated before and that now his specialties would pay off, but how did Parris know to contact him for his specialty in witchcraft or the Devil?

4. Hale: " Here is all the invisible world, caught, defined, and calculated. In these books the Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises. Here are all your familiar spirits- your incubi and succubi, your witches that go by land, by air, and by sea; your wizards of the night and of the day. Have no fear now- we shall find him out if he has come among us, and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face!"

This quote is very intriguing because it shows the strength of Hale’s specialty and intelligence, and also reveals a deeper meaning into "the Devil’s presence." It helps me as a reader to familiarize myself with his teachings and his intelligence. Also, it gives a more suspenseful feeling to the section because there is now a presence to figure out if what is happening to the girls is actually the Devil.

5. I feel sorry for Mrs. Putnam and the way she is so hopeless throughout this section. She looks to Hale for help or understanding of why she has lost seven children at birth and it makes me sad that she had gone through such suffering. Now that her only child is ailing, she is looking all over for help. The way her voice breaks and her delicate looks towards him for help give a deeper feeling of sympathy for her and what she has gone through. Even though she is left unanswered, she still feels there may be hope.

Scene 6:

1. The action arises in this scene when Tituba came out with her accusations and beliefs. She began to banter with Hale and Parris about how she is most definetly Christian but has seen the Devil prancing around with many women, including Goody Osburn and Goody Good. From there, the other girls join in too with their own accusations of George Jacobs, Goody Howe, Goody Sibber, and more. Their ecstatic cries are intriguing and confusing at the same time, because it is just now that they have come out with these accusations.

2. The significance of this scene is the fact that now all the girls have come out with accusations of different women, giving a more detailed description of the plot. If it weren't for this scene, the following pages wouldn't be as suspenseful, and there would be no accusations or "proof" of witchcraft for the people in the room. Their talk of what happened that night and who they "saw" with the Devil gives a suspenseful continuance in the story. It also shows that Abigail is a good liar and that she even lies about what the other girls and Tituba are admitting. She feels that she has to lie until the end of the scene where she also shouts out accusations about different men and women who are witches. This gives more insight to her character also.

3. Why is it that Abigail is so keen on giving up everyone else and keeping herself so confined? She screams out everything that Tituba had done and told her to do, but she still will not admit that she, herself, participated with her own will and reasoning. Also, how is Hale so good at making people admit what they did? I know he is a professional or at least he has specialties in this certain field, but it seems like he has had some training in psychology, or is it just experience over his years of life?

4. Tituba: "He say Mr. Parris must be kill! Mr. Parris no goodly man. Mr. Parris mean man and no gentle man, and he bid me rise out of my bed and cut your throat! But I tell him, "No! I don't hate that man. I don't want kill that man!" But he say, "You work for me Tituba, and I make you free! I give you pretty dress to wear, and put you way high up in the air, and you gone fly back to Barbados!" And I say "You lie, Devil, you lie!" And then he come one stormy night to me and he say, "Look! I have white people belong to me." And I look- and there was Goody Good."

This quote was very interesting for me to read, mainly because it kept my interest. I was able to keep reading with suspense because she is coming up with this story that is so 'out there' since she is talking to the Devil. It's funny how she keeps saying "And... And... And" as if she doesn't know what she's talking about. It sounds like she is making up the story as she continues telling Parris and Hale.

5. I think Tituba was the most interesting character in this scene because of her weird stories and her odd accent and dialect. She really shows her true character in this chapter, even though it is a weird one. She is known to talk to the dead and be able to conjure up dead spirits, and she even admits to talking to the Devil and seeing him with many other people. I think it was really interesting to read about her and what others think of her. Her actions, words, and thoughts, along with her feelings are all different from the others, and that is what makes her such an intriguing character.

6. The relationship between Abigail and Tituba is a confusing one in this scene. Abigail continues to give up everything Tituba had said, done, and thought that night in the woods, but she will not reveal her own actions or thoughts. It seems as if the friendship between the two women is that of a deceitful one, at least a one-sided deceit. Tituba seems more loyal and truthful when it comes to the story of that night, but her stories are almost too far-fetched to believe. The other characters seem to think so too, except for Reverend Hale, who has seen things and studied things like this before. He is the only one that is so intrigued with what she is saying and believes her, too. He believes that all her accusations, along with Abigails, could be true.

7. Hale: It seems as if these women have more on their minds than I thought. Each minute I talk to them and question them, they each have something different to say or another accusation of someone. Abigail, for instance, she lies and lies to us over and over again, but then she is accused of someone else or even seen by someone else and once that information is given, she opens up and tells the truth. We need to watch this girl more closely. Tituba, on the other hand, is a truthful woman, a Christian woman, that is caught up with the Devil. I need to help her release herself from him and perhaps she could help with the young Betty and Ruth. Tituba will be much more useful than Abigail.

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-Arthur Miller