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”The Crucible” by Arthur Miller

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Act I Questions:

1. What was the prevalent philosophy of Salem at the time of the incidents described in the play? 2. What were the purposes of the Salem theocracy?
3. According to Miller, what were the psychological reasons for the “witch-hunt”? 4. A dramatist has 3 major tools for presenting the facts of a play: antecedent action, exposition, and present action. Antecedent action is that which occurs before the play opens. Exposition is that part of the play which is not presented dramatically. Once antecedent action and exposition have been isolated, all else may be regarded as present action, which is presented dramatically. What facts are presented in Act One by means of antecedent action? 5. What facts are presented by means of exposition?

6. The major gain of expository character description is insight into motivation. Briefly state what insight is gained into the motivation of the major characters through exposition in Act One (particularly Parris, Abigail, Putnams, John Proctor, Hale)

Act II Questions:

7. What is learned of the relationship between Elizabeth and John from the opening dialogue and stage action of Act 2? 8. What is learned of the action antecedent to this part of the play through Mary Warren? What are Elizabeth’s suspicions regarding Abigail? 9. What does John agree to do regarding Elizabeth’s suspicion and suggestion? The agreement prepares the way for the deleted scene in the appendix. What are the effects of including the deleted scene? 10. What tempo is established by the pattern of character entrance in Act 2? What is the overall effect of handling the events of Act 2 through character entrance into the Proctor home? 11. What is Proctor’s reaction to Hale’s interpretation that personal acts of sin are bringing on a wrathful retribution?

Act III Questions:

12. What is Danforth’s attitude toward the proceedings of the trials? How does his philosophy influence the trials? 13. How does the attitude held by the court toward the children differ from the previous Salem attitude toward children? How might this contrast of attitude have influenced events? 14. What is the dramatic purpose of Proctor’s discovery of Elizabeth’s reprieve? 15. What dramatic functions does Giles serve in Act 3?

16. Trace the evidence of Hale’s divorce from the hysteria as shown in Act 3. 17. What evidence is presented in Act 1 which explains Abigail’s control over the girls in Act 3? 18. What one ironic event in Act 3 is the crucial turning point which seems to seal John’s fate?

Act IV Questions:

19. How do the occurrences at Andover influence the events of the play at this point? 20. What are Hale’s and Parris’ personal reasons for wanting to obtain a confession? 21. What are the reasons Danforth does not relent?

22. What philosophical conclusions has Hale arrived at as a result of the Salem ordeal? 23. What are the reasons John offers for considering confession? 24. Why can’t Elizabeth offer John advice in his last moral agony? 25. What details of the confession procedures convince Proctor that it is evil and cause him to recant? 26. What is the ultimate irony of the play (Danforth’s statement).

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