Cross Curricular American Literature Unit: The Crucible



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Discovery Channel Video: The history behind the witch hunts. (This will incorporate history into the lesson and create provenance for the story.)

Either click on the hyperlink embedded in the image or go to http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schooladventures/salemwitchtrials/story/story.html to watch a short video of the history and causes of the Salem Witch Trials. After you have viewed the video, please do the following activity.



1. Summarize the video for your classmates and create a short presentation about what you saw. Make sure to cover all of the main points, focusing especially on the causes and effects.

Excerpts from The Hammer of Witches

[Malleus Maleficarum], 1486

(This will incorporate historical documents into the lesson and create provenance for the story.)


But if, neither by threats nor by promises such as these, the witch can be induced to speak the truth, then the jailers must carry out the sentence, and torture the prisoner according to the accepted methods, with more or less of severity as the delinquent's crime may demand. And, while he is being tortured, he must be questioned on the articles of accusation, and this frequently and persistently, beginning with the lighter charges-for he will more readily confess the lighter than the heavier. And, while this is being done, the notary must write down everything in his record of the trial - how the prisoner is tortured, on what points he is questioned and how he answers.

And note that, if he confesses under the torture, he must afterward be conducted to another place, that he may confirm it and certify that it was not due alone to the force of the torture.

But, if the prisoner will not confess the truth satisfactorily, other sorts of tortures must be placed before him, with the statement that unless he will confess the truth, he must endure these also. But, if not even thus he can be brought into terror and to the truth, then the next day or the next but one is to be set for a continuation of the tortures - not a repetition, for it must not be repeated unless new evidences produced.


Observations: Were you surprised by anything in this reading?

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5. Summarize the reading and be prepared to present that information to your classmates.




  1. Research: Why was The Hammer of Witches written? Do you think that is could have influenced the witch hunts in America? Why?



  1. Illustrate the mood portrayed by the reading.



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