The Puritans and The Crucible

 They wanted to reform their
national church by eliminating
every shred of Catholic
 Their attempt to “purify” the
Church of England and their
own lives
 Left for the new world in 1620
to escape religious persecution
and established the
Massachusetts Bay Colony.
 The Puritan community was a
theocracy, a government which
blends church and state. The
church’s officials were the
government’s officials. Thus,
church and state were not
 Puritans were expected to live by a
strict moral code
 All sins – from sleeping in church
to stealing food – should be
 God would punish sinful behavior
 When a neighbor would
suffer misfortune, such as
a sick child or failed crop,
Puritans saw it as God’s
will and did not help
 The Devil was as real as
 Satan would select the
weakest individuals –
women, kids, insane – to
carry out his work
 Those who followed Satan
were witches
 Witchcraft was the
greatest crime punishable by death
 Church was the
foundation of Puritan life
 It was against the law NOT
to attend church
 People were expected to
work hard and repress
their emotions & opinions
 Individual differences were
frowned upon
 The clothing was dark &
somber and dictated by the
 Children were expected to
behave under the same
strict codes as the adults
 Doing chores
 Attending church
 Repress individual
 Any show of emotion
(excitement, anger) was
discouraged and
disobedience was severely
 Children rarely played
 Puritans saw toys & games
as sinful distractions
 Boys practiced carpentry
skills and explored the
outdoors (hunting/fishing)
 Girls were expected to tend
to the house, helping
mothers cook, wash, clean,
& sew
 Many children learned to
read, but households owned
only the Bible and other
religious works
 Betty Parris became strangely ill. She dashed about, dove under
furniture, contorted in pain, and complained of fever. The cause of
her symptoms may have been some combination of stress, asthma,
guilt, boredom, child abuse, epilepsy, and delusional psychosis.
 Talk of witchcraft increased when other playmates of Betty,
including eleven-year-old Ann Putnam, seventeen-year-old Mercy
Lewis, and Mary Walcott, began to exhibit similar unusual behavior.
 A doctor called to examine the girls, suggested that the girls'
problems might have a supernatural origin. The widespread belief
that witches targeted children made the doctor's diagnosis seem
increasingly likely.
Strong belief that Satan is acting in the world
A belief that Satan actively recruits witches and wizards
A belief that a person afflicted by witchcraft exhibits certain
A time of troubles, making it seem likely that Satan was active
Disease, natural catastrophes, bad fortune
Congregational strife in Salem Village
Frontier wars with Indians
Stimulation of imaginations by Tituba
Teenage boredom
Confessing “witches” adding credibility to earlier charges
Old feuds (disputes within congregation, property disputes)
between the accusers and the accused spurring charges of
Arthur Miller
First Performed in 1953
 John Proctor :
 Local farmer; stern,
harsh-tongued man;
hates hypocrisy
 Abigail Williams:
 Rev. Parris’s niece; only
servant for the Proctors;
smart, good liar,
vindictive when crossed
 Elizabeth Proctor:
 John’s wife; fired Abigail;
supremely virtuous, but
 Rev. Parris:
 Minister of Salem’s
church; paranoid, powerhungry; many people
hate him; he is concerned
about building his
position in society
 Rev. John Hail:
 Young minister and
expert on witchcraft;
critical and intelligent
 Francis Nurse:
 Rebecca’s husband;
wealthy, influential man;
respected by most, but an
enemy of Thomas
 Rebecca Nurse:
 Wise, sensible woman;
liked by all in the
 Thomas Putnam:
 Wealthy, influential man;
holds a grudge against
Francis Nurse; wants land
 Ann Putnam:
 Thomas’s wife; has given
birth to eight children,
but only Ruth survived
 Judge Danforth:
 Deputy Governor of MA
and judge at the witch
trials, believes he is doing
what is right for Salem
 Giles Corey:
 Elderly but feisty farmer;
famous for his tendency
to file lawsuits
 Ruth Putnam:
 Lone surviving child of
the Putnam’s; falls into a
strange daze after being
caught dancing
 Tituba:
 Rev. Parris’s black slave
from Barbados; agrees to
perform voodoo
 Betty Parris:
 Rev. Parris’s 10-year-old
daughter; falls into
strange daze after being
caught dancing
 Mary Warren:
 Servant in Putman’s
household; timid; easily
influenced by those
around her
 Martha Corey:
 Giles Corey’s third wife;
her reading habits are
frowned upon by the
 Ezekiel Cheever:
 man from Salem who acts
as clerk of the court
during the witch trials;
determined to do his duty
for justice
 Mercy Lewis:
 One of the girls in
Abigail’s group
 Herrick:
 The marshal of Salem
 Judge Hathorne:
 A judge who preside,
along with Danforth, over
the witch trials

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