The Crucible Act Two Questions Short Response



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The Crucible Act Two Questions
Short Response Answer the following questions based on your knowledge of the drama. Write a short response on a separate sheet of paper.
1. Describe one reason why Proctor holds back at the beginning of Act Two from telling what he knows about Abigail.
2. Why does Hale argue that Proctor’s forgetting a commandment is a serious matter?
3. Explain how Mary Warren changes once she is appointed to the court. Use three details from the text to support your response.
4. Give one piece of evidence that casts suspicion on Proctor’s feelings for Abigail.
5. Hale says to Proctor about Rebecca Nurse’s arrest, “Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.” Explain what Reverend Hale means by these lines.
6. Is Abigail the villain in this drama, or is she innocent? Use details from the drama to support your answer.
7. Mr. Hale visits the Proctors and hears of Rebecca’s and Martha Corey’s arrests. He makes the following statement:
... our hearts break, we cannot flinch; these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court–the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail [shy away from] to follow wherever the accusing finger points!
Describe how this statement parallels McCarthy’s beliefs as he wages war on Communism.
8. As the Proctors converse in the opening scene of Act II of The Crucible, how would you characterize their relationship? Cite evidence from the play to support you answer.
9. In the early part of Act II of The Crucible, Elizabeth tells Proctor that Mary Warren has been to court and speaks of Abigail, the chief accuser, as a saint. Knowing that Mary works for the Proctors, and that Abigail bears a grudge against Proctor, what prediction can you make about the impact of Mary’s attitude on her employers?
10. Early in Act II of The Crucible, Elizabeth insists that John should go to Salem to testify to the falseness of the witchcraft charges. What does this show about what kind of woman she is?
11. In Act II of The Crucible, John Proctor initially shows some reluctance to go to Salem to expose the falseness of Abigail’s charges of witchcraft. His reluctance is due to an inner conflict over what longstanding issue?
12. When Mary returns to the Proctors’ residence in Act II of The Crucible, why does she present a doll (poppet) to Elizabeth?
13. In Act II of The Crucible, when Hale appears at the Proctors’ door, he is described as “different now--drawn a little, and there is a quality of deference, even of guilt, about his manner now.” What inner conflict accounts for this change?
14. When Hale quizzes Proctor on the Ten Commandments in Act II of The Crucible, Proctor has trouble remembering one of them. Which one does he forget, and why?
15. In Act II of The Crucible, when Hale hears that Rebecca Nurse has been charged, he is troubled. Read his allusion below to the story that the Devil was once an angel. What does he intend to point out by making this allusion
an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.
16. If you noticed that your dinner companion was eating his meal avidly, would you assume that he was enjoying the dish? Explain your answer, basing it on the meaning of avidly as it is used in Act II of The Crucible.
17. Early in The Crucible, Mary Warren seems like a timid and unimportant character. What does Mary learn throughout the first two acts that shows her a way to acquire more power and importance in the community? How does she use this knowledge? Explain Mary’s changing role in an essay that cites details from the play.
18. Write an essay in which you explain the influence of Abigail Williams on the events of Act II of The Crucible. Does she actually appear in the act? How does her character affect the action and dialogue of the other characters? Consider Abigail’s motivations for her actions and their impact on other characters.
19. In an essay, analyze the state of life in Salem at the end of Act II of The Crucible. Are most people in the community happy or unhappy? As the witchcraft trial proceeds, are standards of justice in the community rising or falling? What effect is the religious fervor surrounding the trials having on the moral life of the community? Cite evidence from Act II to support your response.
20. Thinking About the Essential Question: How does literature shape or reflect society? In The Crucible, Miller portrayed the religious hysteria of seventeenth-century Salem as being comparable to the anti-Communist fervor that spurred the divisive investigations of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s in the United States. To emphasize the irrational, rigid nature of this fervor, Miller uses religious allusions throughout Act II. Give examples of at least two of these allusions, and explain how they deepen the reader’s understanding of the elements of Puritan society that contributed to the hysteria over witchcraft.
21. The references to the Commandments are an allusion to ____. Select the correct answer and explain why this allusion are important to the events that are taking place in Act II, The Crucible.

a. Salem’s charter

b. Salem’s laws

c. the Bible

d. a play by Shakespeare
22. Hale has been called to Salem to determine whether the Devil is among the people. As Act II of The Crucible progresses, his opinion as to whether the Devil is present is being tempered by his observations of the people of Salem. Use the graphic organizer to trace Hale’s observations. Summarize the conclusion he is reaching.
The Crucible Act Two Questions

Answer Section
1. ANS:

Responses will vary. Students may describe one of the following reasons for Proctor to hold back what he knows about Abigail:

a. He does not know how to prove that Abigail is lying because there was no one else in the room when she told him that she had lied (lines 127–131).

b. He may still have feelings for her (lines 145–155).

c. He feels guilt about the affair with her (lines 386–387) and wants to protect his reputation

PTS: 10
2. ANS:

Hale compares theology to a fortress (lines 573–574) and says that Proctor’s forgetting even one commandment is serious because even one small crack can bring down a fortress.

PTS: 10
3. ANS:

Responses will vary. Students should say that Proctor believes that Mary is a “mouse” but that she has changed. Being appointed to the court has given Mary power and importance. This has given her self-confidence, and she refuses to be told what to do. Students may use three of the following details to support their responses:

a. Though she is still a servant and Proctor has forbidden her to go to Salem, she goes to town anyway (lines 68–69).

b. Mary is no longer a “mouse” (line 75) and talks back to her mistress (lines 77–80).

c. She “remembers” things she did not know before (lines 242–247).

d. She is impatient with Proctor (line 286).

e. She defies Proctor when he orders her to stay away from court (lines 289–293).

f. She is self-important (lines 291–293 and 306–309).

g. She will not follow orders (lines 339–341).

PTS: 20
4. ANS:

Responses will vary. Students may describe one of the following details that shows that Proctor may still have feelings for Abigail:

a. He does not immediately tell anyone about her lie (lines 127–131 and 145–147).

b. He was alone with Abigail but lied to Elizabeth about it (lines 132–136).

c. He blushes when he sees her in church (lines 386–388).

PTS: 10
5. ANS:

Responses will vary. Students should say that Hale compares Rebecca Nurse to the Devil and says that the people of Salem could all be under the impression that Rebecca is good, as God thought the Devil was beautiful, until they find out Rebecca’s true nature.

PTS: 10
6. ANS:

[B-Test] Responses will vary. Students who say that Abigail is a villain may describe the following details to prove Abigail’s guilt:

a. She lies about what happens in the words and tells Proctor that she lied (lines 108–109, 130–131, and 606–608).

b. She falsely accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft (line 753).

c. She very likely put the needle in the poppet, which leads to Elizabeth’s arrest (799–808 and 848–849).

d. She has threatened to harm Mary if she tells the truth (line 976).

Students who say that Abigail is an innocent child caught up in events beyond her control may describe the following details:

a. She is a young girl who has been treated badly by a grown man, Proctor, who knows better (lines 171–172, 368–372 and 390–391).

b. She is caught up in mob mentality with the other girls, who also act out in court (lines 237–238).

c. No real proof exists so far that she does not feel the things that she and the other girls claim to feel in court (lines 237–238 and 249–256).

d. It is unclear whether she placed a needle in the poppet or Mary forgot the needle (lines 835–840).

PTS: 20
7. ANS:

Answers may vary. Sample answer:
Mr. Hale’s sentiment in this statement easily could have been spoken by McCarthy. During the McCarthy era, good, innocent, and honest people were brought to trial. Due to fear, innocent people sometimes confessed or gave names of other people suspected of Communist activities. Many hearts broke over false accusations; but times were Vocabulary Practice new—Communism had never been a threat before. That threat caused a new approach without regard for principles and friendships. McCarthy maintained that he had proof, although ill-gotten and often incorrect, of Communist infiltration. Believing the devil—Communism—to be alive in the United States, McCarthy did not shy away from pointing an accusing finger.

PTS: 20 KEY: compare | contrast | evaluate | The Crucible, Act 2


8. ANS:

Their relationship is warm yet uneasy. When he kisses her, he comes away disappointed. At one point, a stage direction says, “It is as though she would speak but cannot . . . A sense of their separation arises.”

PTS: 1
9. ANS:

If Mary has been cooperating with Abigail, then it is likely that she will play some kind of role in getting one of the Proctors in trouble with the court on Abigail’s behalf.

PTS: 1
10. ANS:

Her urging John to go to Salem to argue against the witchcraft charges shows that she is a woman of courage, honesty and good character.

PTS: 1
11. ANS:

His reluctance is based on an inner conflict over his past adulterous affair with Abigail.

PTS: 1
12. ANS:

She wants to plant evidence of witchcraft in Elizabeth’s house.

PTS: 1
13. ANS:

He has seen events in Salem go beyond his expectations into a kind of hysteria, and he is no longer completely comfortable with the direction of the trials.

PTS: 1
14. ANS:

Proctor has trouble remembering the commandment about adultery, probably because of his guilty conscience over his affair with Abigail.

PTS: 1
15. ANS:

He intends to point out the Devil’s powerful skills of deception.

PTS: 1
16. ANS:

Yes, you would assume that he was enjoying his dish, because avidly means “eagerly.”

PTS: 1
17. ANS:

Students might note that Mary Warren sees that Abigail gets a great deal of attention when she accuses people of being witches. In Act II, she helps set up a trap for Elizabeth Proctor. She lies when she is questioned, which gains her more and more attention. Mary Warren has learned how to use dishonesty and hysteria to gain power.

PTS: 1
18. ANS:

Students should note: Abigail’s strong influence over the other girls; her careless attitude toward what will happen to Tibuba when she blames her; her animosity toward and jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor; her continuing obsession with John Proctor; and her rebellious, manipulative manner with Parris. Her testimony has had a powerful influence on the court proceedings, and her production of the doll and the faking of her own stabbing begin to convince Hale that claims against Abigail must be false. So, despite the fact that she does not appear in the act, she is still a major player because she influences the events that unfold in Act II.

PTS: 1
19. ANS:

Students might note the increasing unhappiness of the community by the end of Act II as accusations and suspicions of witchcraft lead to sense of general paranoia and suspicion, with neighbor turning against neighbor. They should note that as people become more and more caught up in this climate of fear and paranoia, they become more and more willing to engage in false testimony (Tituba, the girls), either to save themselves or to carry out personal vendettas. They also become more and more likely to believe unproven charges against innocent people (such as Elizabeth Proctor). So, standards of justice are collapsing. In general, a religious fervor that claims to want to banish the influence of evil (the Devil) from the community is itself the cause of evil (lying, false accusations, irrational fears) in the community.

PTS: 1
20. ANS:

Students might suggest that Miller’s use of religious allusions is designed to show that people’s tendency to fall prey to hysteria over witchcraft was based, in part, on an unthinking, blind loyalty to some beliefs and myths (for Miller McCarthy’s anti-Communist inquisition was a kind of crusade) rather than rational thinking. For example, early in the act, Elizabeth compares Abigail’s new-found power over the townspeople: “Where she walks the crowd will part for her like the sea for Israel.” This allusions shows how inclined the “crowd” of Salem was to blind conformity because of dogma. Later in the act, Hale declares that “the Devil is alive in Salem”—his way of pointing out how the virtue deep religious belief has somehow produced its opposite—the unreasoning evil of lies and false accusations. Finally, later in the act, Proctor shouts at Hale, “Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your hands of this!” With this biblical allusion Proctor accuses Hale of knowing involvement in the unjust persecution of Elizabeth—of bending to the same kind of injustice that led the crowd, when given a choice by Pilate, to choose to crucify Jesus.

PTS: 1
21. ANS:

c, Explanation: The Puritans live by the Commandments which, among other things, indicate how they should treat one another, and include adultery, which is a sensitive topic with the Proctors.

PTS: 1
22. ANS:

Sample answer: Hale’s mission is to determine whether there are witches in Salem; he sees potential signs when he first arrives, but begins to suspect the children’s accusations to not be entirely true and astutely observes the mass hysteria that is growing in the community.



PTS: 1


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