The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Set during the Salem Witch Trials, this play serves as excellent insight into the ideas of misguided perception and "innocent until proven guilty." Arthur Miller wrote this as a way to criticize and ridicule the McCarthy hearings during the Red Scare.

Study Guide

Study Questions: Answer each fully (sometimes in sentences, sometimes the answer is just a word or two).  Keep these questions out and fill in your answers as we read and not when we finish.  Answers to some of the questions might be found in the exposition sections.


Act I

1. What was Samuel Parris’s attitude toward children?

2. Why do you think Rev. Parris has many enemies? 

3. After Parris begins to believe his daughter to be afflicted by witchcraft, what is Thomas Putnam’s advice to him? 

4. What truths come out when the adults leave the girls alone? 

5. What’s going on between Abigail and John Proctor?

6. Why does Betty start screaming?

7. Why are some people, including John Proctor, inclined to stay away from Sabbath meeting?

8. Why does Hale believe the Devil would strike Rev. Parris’s house?

9. Though Rev. Hale is trying to get Tituba to name her accomplices, who is the first person to actually mention names?

10. Why isn’t it difficult for Ann Putnam to believe that Goody Osburn is a witch? 

Act II
11. What do you know about the relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor from the stage action and opening dialogue of Act II?

12. Describe the power Abigail has in the court room. 

13. What’s going on between the Proctors on pages 52-53 (________)?

14. Though Mary Warren cannot say who accused Elizabeth Proctor, who do you believe accused her and why?

15. Ironically, which commandment can John not remember?

16. John Proctor seems to be the only voice of reason in the confusing end of Act II.  What are some examples to support this idea?
17. Why is Mary Warren afraid of telling the truth about Abigail, for herself and for John? 

18. Over and over, Danforth says that the good have nothing to fear.  What evidence can you give to show that the opposite is true?

19. On pages 100 Danforth gives the premise for judging a witch.  Summarize his guidelines. 

20. Mary Warren's testimony is destroyed in the end because she cannot do something.  What?  How does she explain the problem? 

21. Finally, Proctor admits that he and Abigail have been lovers.  This truth could be the end of Abigail’s control.  Why isn’t it?

22. What is the importance of John Proctor’s last speech (in Act III)? 

Act IV
23. What is Hale’s mission in Act IV? 

24. Parris tells Danforth, “You cannot hang this sort” (128).  What does he mean? 

25. Why won’t Danforth pardon the prisoners?

26. Do you think Elizabeth Proctor would confess if she were in her husband’s place?  Explain.

27. In the end, what is it that is of utmost importance to John Proctor? 

Themes Worksheet

Themes are insights that a literary work gives about life. Below is a list of themes from The Crucible. Before reading the play, give an example from real life illustrating the theme. After reading the play, give an example illustrating the theme from the play itself.

Real life:

The play:

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The play:

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The play:

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The play:

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The play:

Real life:

The play:

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