Possible Essay Topics for The Crucible
1. Which character in the play best exemplifies courage and integrity, and in what ways?
2. The causes of the witch-craft hysterias include many things: vengeance, jealousy, greed, power (the formerly powerless accusers suddenly gained total power), sexual repression, guilt and shame and the need to confess one’s sins, the need to blame others for one’s own misfortunes ... pick a character who sees and recognizes all these true motives and argue that of all the play’s characters, this character demonstrates the most insight into the root causes of the hysteria and also into human nature. Consider: Proctor, Hale, Rebecca Nurse.
3. A more highly evolved thinker is someone who can, in part, transcend dichotomies (or, Dualism, a simple way of dividing the world into paired opposites, such as black-white, night-day, good-evil). Which character, of all of the characters in the play, comes closest to being able to see beyond simplistic, Dualistic thinking? Consider: Proctor, Elizabeth, Martha and Giles Corey, Reverend Hale.
4. Argue that if the vast majority of Puritans in Salem had not had a Dualistic way of viewing the world—that is, they all transcended dichotomous ways of thinking—that the witchcraft trials would never have happened. Do this by showing how central their Dualistic way of viewing the world was to the witch-hunts and trials.
5. Redemption is a common theme of a lot of religious, particularly Christian, stories and Christian-influenced cultures. Which characters in the play seek redemption, and how do they go about it? Who actually finds it? (Redemption is when someone has done something bad, and atones for, or makes up for, the bad stuff to ‘redeem’ their soul, or character, to make themselves—if not pure—at least, better than they were, to ‘balance the scales’ again). Bear in mind that confession is a huge part of the process of redemption for many Christians, but that the Puritans did not have confessionals in their churches, as is common among Catholics. Consider: Proctor, Hale, Elizabeth.
6. Who among all the characters best fits with the definition of a ‘person of tomorrow’?
Twelve characteristics of ‘The Person of Tomorrow’ (according to Carl Rogers, cited in An Introduction to Theories of Personality, Fourth Edition, by B.R. Hergenhahn)
An openness to both inner and outer experience.
A rejection of hypocrisy, deceit, and double talk. In other words, a desire for authenticity. 3.
A skepticism toward the kind of science and technology that has as its goal the conquest of nature or the control of people. 4.
A desire for wholeness. For example, equal recognition and expression of the intellect and the emotions. 5.
A wish for shared purpose in life or intimacy.
A tendency to embrace change and risk-taking with enthusiasm. 7.
A gentle, subtle, non-moralistic, nonjudgmental caring. 8.
A feeling of closeness to, and a caring for, nature.
Antipathy for any highly structured, inflexible, bureaucratic institution. They believe that institutions should exist for the people, not the other way around. 10.
A tendency to follow the authority of their own organismic valuing process. 11.
An indifference toward material comfort and rewards.
A desire to seek a meaning in life greater than the individual—spiritual yearning.
7. Pick a character whose choices throughout the play show how he or she morally changed, and explain how that character’s social and moral choices helped him or her to grow and change.
Your Essay’s Basic Outline:
I. Introduction. 1. Write your thesis here, and include this phrase: “In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible”:
2. Now write (in brief) what the three main points that support your thesis are (do not write your actual topic sentences, but just mention what those sentences will be about). Do that here:
II. First Body Paragraph 1. Here,...
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