Topic #1: The Crucible as a Cautionary Tale
In the opening of Act One of "The Crucible", Arthur Miller clearly establishes that this play is about the period in American history known as the Salem witch trials. Much has been made, however, out of the historical moment in which Arthur Miller wrote the play—the McCarthy era—and it has been argued that The Crucible was Miller’s critique of the time period. If you agree that The Crucible is a cautionary tale, identify what it cautions the reader against, and how it suggests that society averts or prevents a witch hunt. State whether you agree that The Crucible is a timeless tale, or whether you think the relevance of The Crucible will fade over time. Topic #2: The Use of Fear Tactics in "The Crucible"
The play begins with rumors that the town has become plagued by witches of late, and soon this rumor generates a fear that spreads faster than wildfire. The fear escalates to such a dramatic degree that the leaders of Salem must respond by seeking out the supposed witches with extreme strategies: the trials and hangings of witches. Carefully examine how this fear escalates, identifying who the responsible parties are, what their stakes were, and what tactics they used to escalate concern in their community. Write an argumentative essay on The Crucible in which you state your belief about the inevitability of the witch-hunt, and explain how the fear tactics employed convinced otherwise rational people to believe very irrational ideas.
Topic #3: Power Dynamics in "The Crucible"
One of the important patterns in The Crucible is power: who has it, how they got it, how they use it, and why they use it. Select one or more characters and determine whether they are powerful or powerless. If powerful, examine the ways in which they exercise their authority. In the case of someone powerless, how do they struggle against their position in Salem? Either way, consider the use and abuse of power.
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