Why I wrote The Crucible

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English III Name_________________________________ 19 December 2012

“Why I Wrote The Crucible”

by Arthur Miller


3 Sub-topics

Details, specifics, examples













Main Idea:

  1. What does Miller say about fear?

“Fear doesn't travel well; just as it can warp judgment, its absence can diminish memory's truth. What terrifies one generation is likely to bring only a puzzled smile to the next.”

Analysis: Our memory’s dim after the initial experience. And if we don’t experience the “event” or “tragedy,” we tend to be less likely to be empathetic.

  1. How does Miller describe Senator Joseph McCarthy?

“Likewise, films of Senator Joseph McCarthy are rather unsettling -- if you remember the fear he once spread. Buzzing his truculent sidewalk brawler's snarl through the hairs in his nose, squinting through his cat's eyes and sneering like a villain, he comes across now as nearly comical, a self-aware performer keeping a straight face as he does his juicy threat-shtick.”
Analysis: The description of McCarthy by Miller reveals his (Miller’s) disdain for McCarthy. Based on the language Miller uses, he paints a picture of an evil man.
Who did he compare him to? Hitler

  1. What is the “grain of fact” that allowed McCarthy the “power to stir fears”?

“McCarthy -- brash and ill-mannered but to many authentic and true -- boiled it all down to what anyone could understand: we had "lost China" and would soon lose Europe as well, because the State Department -- staffed, of course, under Democratic Presidents -- was full of treasonous pro-Soviet intellectuals. It was as simple as that.”

Analysis: Losing China to Communism drove the fear that more countries would be “taken over” and the freedom and democracy of the United is threatened.

  1. What single statement did McCarthy use to help incite that fear?

That we had lost China

  1. Why were people afraid to question the issue of China?

“I was motivated in some great part by the paralysis that had set in among many liberals who, despite their discomfort with the inquisitors' violations of civil rights, were fearful, and with good reason, of being identified as covert Communists if they should protest too strongly.”

Analysis: This is similar to what happened with the Salem witch trials. The government used invasive tactics to find “Communists” which is a violation of civil rights. (we have the right to freedom of speech). Liberals feared being accused of being Communists if they tried to protect those being accused. Just like Mary Warren is afraid of Abigail – she’s protecting herself and not speaking up for Elizabeth by telling the truth.

  1. What was the name of the committee formed by Senator McCarthy?

The Red hunt, led by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and by McCarthy

  1. What analogy did Miller use to describe the paranoia?

Skip this questions.

  1. Write the quote that inspired Miller to write the play The Crucible.

"During the examination of Elizabeth Procter, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam" -- the two were "afflicted" teen-age accusers, and Abigail was Parris's niece -- "both made offer to strike at said Procter; but when Abigail's hand came near, it opened, whereas it was made up, into a fist before, and came down exceeding lightly as it drew near to said Procter, and at length, with open and extended fingers, touched Procter's hood very lightly. Immediately Abigail cried out her fingers, her fingers, her fingers burned... "

Miller sees the hypocrisy in Abigail’s actions. Were her fingers burning? Did Elizabeth put the needle in her belly?

  1. What was happening in Miller’s personal life that also influenced his writing of The Crucible?

His marriage was failing and he alludes to the fault as being his due to his infidelity – just like John Proctor.

  1. List the parallels that Miller saw between the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthy’s trials.

  1. Miller lists one thing as the true motive behind this paranoia. What is it, and do you agree with Miller? Why? Why not?

The thing at issue is buried intentions -- the secret allegiances of the alienated hearts always the main threat to the theocratic mind, as well as its immemorial quarry.

Analysis: Miller is questioning what motivates people to action. He is suggesting that scorned love is a great danger. Jealousy is a highly charged emotion and one that human’s find difficult to manage.

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