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The Crucible

Arthur Miller

Act One
Questions and Answers

1. What is the setting (time and place)


of the play? Describe the town in
which this play takes place.
The play is set in Salem, Massachusetts in the
year 1692.
The town was small and isolated, barely a
village. There were few houses; nearby was
the forest and the bay. To the Europeans, it
was seen as a barbaric frontier filled with
fanatics; however, these people were good
businesspeople.

2. Make a list of at least five words


(adjectives) that describe each of the
main characters.

Parris: Well-educated; Greedy; Egocentric


Abigail: Deceitful; Insensitive; Lustful
Proctor: Susceptible; Capable; Autonomous
T. Putnam: Covetous; Vindictive; Confrontational
A. Putnam: Unfortunate; Wistful; Agitative
Corey: Elderly; Scatterbrained yet Shrewd;
Humorous
R. Nurse: Respected; Wise; Maternal
Hale: Well-Read; Authoritative; Imposing

3. How did the villages residents regard the forest


and its Indian inhabitants? From what paradox
(contradiction) did the Salem tragedy develop?
The townspeople feared the forest because of the
Indians and because they believe the forest is the
devils playground (therefore, the Indians who
come from the forests must be Satans
emissaries).
The theocracy developed so the colony could
survive; disunity was a threat. The witch-hunt
was a result of a kind of panic that developed
when a need for individual freedom began to be
felt (independence = being drawn to the devil and
therefore wrong.)

4. What behaviors of Betty Parris and


Ruth Putnam made some feel they
were possessed by witches?
Betty was in a coma-like state.
Ruth was walking around in a dumb state; she
wasnt talking, eating, etc.
Therefore, some of the townspeople felt that
the girls must be possessed.

5. What did Reverend Parris see in the woods?


What has he done in response to what he saw?
What all actually happened in the woods?
Reverend Parris saw the girls dancing and he saw
someone running naked. In response to this, hes
asked Reverend Hale to come to Salem to verify
that no witchcraft is being performed in his
community.
In the forest, the girls danced, Mercy was naked,
Abigail drank a potion to kill Goody Proctor, and
Tituba conjured spirits for Ruth and Ann Putnam
(regarding the dead Putnam babies).

6. Why was Abigail fired from the


Proctor household?
Abigail claims she was fired because she
wouldnt let Goody Proctor treat her like a
slave.
She was really fired because Goody Proctor
found out Abigail was having an affair with Mr.
Proctor.

7. How do the Putnams feel about the


possibility of witchcraft in Salem? Why is
Thomas Putnam a bitter man?

The Putnams believe because of the number


of children theyve lost and because of Betty
and Ruths behavior that witchcraft is
definitely alive and well in Salem.
Thomas Putnam is a bitter man because:
His wifes brother-in-law was not made minister of
Salem (remember, this is a theocracy and the
minister wielded a lot of power.)
His father did not leave Thomas as much in his will
as Thomas felt was his birthright.

8. What is Mary Warrens greatest fear?


Mary Warren feared being executed as a
witch.

9. Who is in control of the girls?


No, the devil is not in control of the girls.
Remember, they are simply frightened
because they were caught doing things they
should not have been doing so whats
happening with Betty and Ruth is a result of
fear, not of the devils hold on them.
Abigail is in control of the girls. She is their
leader as you can tell when she speaks with /
threatens Mary Warren and Mercy Lewis.

10. How does Abigail react to John


Proctor? What does he tell her?
Abigail is very attracted to John Proctor and acts
provocatively towards him when they are alone.
She flirts and basically begs him to again put
knowledge in her heart.
John tells her they can never be together again,
that they should never have been together,
because he is a married man and he cannot cheat
on his wife again. He tells Abigail that she must
forget him and stop being so mischievous.

11. What does Abigail say about the


rumors of witchcraft?
Basically, Abigail says Oh posh about the
rumors of witchcraft. She knows that its all a
load of well, you know. Shes the one who
instigated all of this and she knows that shes
not worshipping the devil, that she just
wanted to have a little fun with the girls; here,
she uses the same word Rebecca Nurse uses
later, that Betty is simply acting silly.

12. Do you think Abigail really loves


John Proctor?
This is truly an opinion question at this point
Here are some things to think about when
answering this question:
Yes, Abigail does really love sex because to her, a
female teenager, sex equals love.
No, Abigail does not really love John because if she
did, she wouldnt try to tempt him do something that
he tells her he doesnt want to do because he knows
its wrong (he is married, after all) and that it goes
against his beliefs and his conscience.

13. What does Rebecca Nurse believe


is afflicting the girls? What caution
does she offer?
Rebecca Nurse believes that the girls are simply
being silly, or acting out. She believes that they
are simply being children and that eventually,
theyll snap out of it.
She cautions them against looking for witchcraft
where none exists. She knows that if they
become convinced that witchcraft exists, that
panic will ensue, and that no one will be safe
from the chaos that panic will cause.

14. Why do some people resent Francis and


Rebecca Nurse?
Some people resent Francis and Rebecca Nurse
because:
- They have 11 children and 26 grandchildren;
none of their children / grandchildren have died.
- Francis was originally not a landowner;
however, through hard work, he accumulated
land, wealth, and power.
- They were against Thomas Putnams candidate
for reverend and prevented the candidate from
getting the position.
- The Nurses had a land war against some of
their neighbors, one of whom was a Putnam.

15. Which of the characters are


openly critical of Reverend Parris?
John Proctor is openly critical of Reverend
Parris because of Parris greed and because of
his continual preaching on nothing but
mortgages and hellfire / damnation.
Rebecca supports the opinion that Parris
doesnt preach on anything but the negative
aspects of religion.
Giles Corey agrees that Parris is too greedy.

16. What does Parris accuse Proctor


of? What does Thomas Putnam accuse
Proctor of?
Parris accuses Proctor of organizing a group
whose sole purpose is to undermine Parris
authority and position.
Thomas Putnam accuses Proctor of stealing
wood off of his (Putnams) land.

17. What confession does Mrs.


Putnam make to both Reverend Parris
and Reverend Hale?
Ann Putnam confesses to sending Ruth, her
daughter, out into the woods with Tituba,
Parris slave, to conjure up the spirits of her
seven dead babies so they will tell her whos
been murdering them.

18. What special purpose does Giles


Corey serve in the play?
Giles Corey serves as comic relief in the play.

19. Why does Tituba confess? How does


Reverend Hale make her feel important? Who
does Tituba say are also witches?
Tituba confesses to avoid being executed.
Reverend Hale makes her feel important by begin
gentle in his questioning of her and by convincing
her that she is Gods instrument given to them
to find out the Devils plan for Salem so they can
prevent him from gaining a stronghold on the
townspeople.
Tituba says Sarah Good and Sarah Osburne are
witches.

20. How do Abigail and Betty take


advantage of what is happening to
make sure they will not be blamed for
dancing in the forest?
Abigail and Betty also name names, to throw
suspicion off of themselves. By the time Act
One is over, Abigail and Betty have added 9
names to those accused of being witches.

21. Based on what you have learned


about Abigail in Act One, whom do you
think she might accuse as the play
goes on? Cite specific evidence to
support your answer.
Abigail will most likely name Goody Proctor as
a witch. She has already tried to put a curse
on her that would kill her; therefore, accusing
her of witchery is not a stretch and would help
in Abigails quest of ridding the town, and
John Proctor, of Elizabeth.

22. The mini-essays are not generally included in a stage


production of The Crucible. Why do you think Miller included
them in his drama? Do you think the play production of The
Crucible would be effective without the inclusions of these miniessays? Why or why not?

Miller included the mini-essays in the drama to give


background information for us to more fully understand
his characters and his thoughts about mass hysteria in
general.
The play performed without the mini-essays would still
be effective because the dialogue and the actions are
powerful in and of themselves. However, the audience
would not understand the purpose of the play nor the
background of some of the players which may leave
them feeling a little bewildered or disconnected from the
play.

Question 23 is:
Miller often foreshadows his characterizations
with a descriptive phrase in the stage
directions just before a characters entrance
on the stage. What does he suggest about
each of the following characters in doing so:
Abigail, Ann Putnam, and Mercy Lewis? How
do the dialogue and actions of each character
in this act bear out Millers suggestions?

Question 23s answer is:


Abigail is beautiful and she is aware of her beauty
which gives her the confidence to flirt with John
Proctor. She is good at dissembling, at hiding the truth
to protect herself.
Ann Putnam is haunted by the loss of her seven babies;
this grief makes her do things that she would not
normally do, like send her daughter to conjure spirits.
Mercy Lewis is definitely mischievous; after all, she is
the one who was running naked through the woods.
She is also merciless in her taunts of Mary Warren
when Mary Warren is clearly at her wits end.

24. One of Millers major subjects in the play is the


nature of authority. Comment on how Parris, Thomas
Putnam, Hale, and Rebecca Nurse are linked with the
idea of authority in Act One. At this stage, what seems
to be the playwrights opinion about each of these
characters claims to possessing authority?

Parris is the town minister; with this being a


theocracy, he is definitely a power player. Miller
does not seem to think that his position should
be equated with power.
Putnam owns a lot of land, which again, during
this time period, gave him power. However, you
can tell that Miller doesnt put much stock in land
ownership equating power.

Question 24 continued
Reverend Hale is a well-read man. Although there
is some arrogance, there is also some
thoughtfulness and gentleness shown by Hale.
Miller probably regard highly people who were
well-read since he himself was a playwright. That
is most likely why although there is some
haughtiness shown in Hale, hes not depicted as a
total bumbling idiot.
Rebeccas age and upward mobility give her
authority, and according to how Miller treats her,
some well-deserved respect.

25. How would you describe the atmosphere or mood


at the end of this act? What might this atmosphere
foreshadow about future events in the town of Salem?

There is an air of hysteria present at this point as


Abigail and Betty join Tituba in naming names.
Also, Putnam calls for the marshal to arrest those
named and Hale feverishly joins him in calling for
the arrest of Satans followers.
Things arent looking so good for Salem; this
hysteria will most likely spiral out of control and
innocent people will probably be hurt and worse.