The Crucible


Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the parallels between the Salem witch trials and the anti-Communism hearings in the 1950s. How are they similar, and how are they different? Also, what are the advantages of using a historical incident as an indirect way of commenting on current events?

2. Reverend Hale’s character seems to undergo a profound shift in the second half of the play. How and why does he go from being at the forefront of the witch-hunt to someone who is increasingly skeptical of the court and ultimately denounces it?

3. Abigail is for the most part an unsympathetic character. However, in her brief confrontation with John Proctor in Betty Parris’s room, she breaks down in tears and credits him with taking her from her “sleep” and putting knowledge in her heart about the “pretense” of Salem. Discuss how this bright girl who seems so aware of the hypocrisy around her becomes someone who actual uses and manipulates that hypocrisy.

4. Throughout the play, Mary Warren struggles with the question of what is right and wrong, and tries to do the right thing but ultimately succumbs to Abigail and her “visions.” Discuss the role of the girls in the play. Why are they the principal accusers? What might it have been like to fall under the influence of a girl like Abigail?

5. In the classical tradition of tragedy, a good but imperfect character experiences a fall due to a fatal flaw. In The Crucible, Miller clearly intended John Proctor to be a tragic hero. Discuss his fatal flaw and how it opens him up to a tragic fall.

6. One of the most mysterious lines in the play is uttered by John Proctor at the end of Act Two as his wife Elizabeth is being hauled off to jail. Almost to himself, he says, “we are only what we always were, but naked now.” What is he saying here?

7. Discuss the ending. It is certainly somber; a number of innocent people have already died, and now the play’s central character, John Proctor, is off to face death, as well. However, there is...

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