The Crucible

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Why did the Salem settlement need a theocracy?

The author's notes say that the Puritans chose a theocracy to maintain unity in their settlement.  

Why had the settlers begun to turn toward individualism?

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How does Miller characterize Parris?

He is a man who symbolizes the particular quality of moral repression & paranoia that drive the trials. Miller immediately establishes Parris as a man whose main concern is his reputation & status in the community, rather than the well-being of his daughter.  

How does Parris feel about his parishioners?

Parris showed an obsession with damnation and hell in order to strike fear into his parishioners.  

Why is Thomas Putnam willing to speak of witchcraft?

Thomas Putnam demonstrates that his motivation involves his longstanding grudges against others; the witchcraft trials give Putnam an opportunity to exact revenge against others, and, as will later be shown, to profit economically from others' executions.  

How does Mrs. Putnam know what Ruth was doing in the woods?

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Why does Abigail "admit" that Tituba and Ruth were conjuring spirits?

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Why is Abigail afraid the others will confess what they were doing in the woods?

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How does Abigail treat the other girls? How does she treat her uncle?

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What are Abigail's feelings towards John Proctor?

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Why is she antagonistic toward Elizabeth Proctor?

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Why has she been asked to leave her home?

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Why does she tell John what happened to Betty?

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Why do Proctor and Rebecca speak out against Hale's coming?

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Why has Proctor set himself against Parris?

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How does Rebecca's departure affect those waiting at the bedside?

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Why does Abigail accuse Tituba?

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Why does Hale believe Abigail rather than Tituba?

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How does he lead Tituba into naming names?

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Why do Abigail and Betty name names?

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What is a crucible? How is it used? Justify Miller's use of The Crucible as a title for his play.

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Act I summary

The play is set in Salem, Massachusetts in spring of 1692. It begins in a small upper bedroom of the home of Rev. Samuel Parris, who kneels in prayer at the bed of his daughter, Betty.  

Tituba, Rev. Parris' slave from Barbados, comes into the room. She is concerned for Betty's welfare, but Parris makes her leave. Abigail Williams, the niece of Rev. Parris enters along with Susanna Walcott, who tells Rev. Parris that Dr. Griggs can't find a cure for Betty's ailment.

Parris sent for Rev. Hale of Beverly, who will confirm the possibility of an unnatural cause of Betty's illness, but he orders Susanna to say nothing of unnatural causes to others. Abigail warns Parris that there are rumors of witchcraft & that the parlor is packed with people. 

Parris tells her that he cannot reveal that he found his daughter & niece dancing in the forest like heathens. Abigail admits to dancing & is willing to accept the punishment, but will not admit to witchcraft. Parris warns Abigail that he has enemies who will use this situation against him, & claims that he saw a dress lying on the grass & someone naked running through the trees.

He thinks that Tituba was screeching gibberish when he found the girls, but Abigail says they were singing Barbados songs. Parris demands to know whether Abigail has a good reputation, following up on rumors that her former employee, Goody Proctor, thinks Abigail is corrupt, but Abigail calls Goody Proctor a gossiping liar. 

Mrs. Ann Putnam & Mr. Thomas Putnam enter; she claims that Betty's illness is certainly a stroke of hell. There are rumors that Betty was flying over the Ingersoll's barn, according to Mrs. Putnam. Their daughter Ruth is also...
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