The Crucible – Act One

Why would Miller include the note on historical accuracy? Miller includes the note on historical accuracy so the reader will believe him. It shows the reader how much is real verses how much is made up. He wants the reader to take his writing seriously.
Who are Reverend Parris, Betty, and Abigail? What is their relationship? Reverend Parris is a minister in Salem. Abigail is Parris’s 17 year old niece he has taken in. Betty is Parris’s 10 year old daughter.
Who is Tituba? What is her relationship to the family? Tituba is a black slave/servant to Parris. She is known for her voodoo skill that she learned in her home country, Barbados. She is a mother figure to Abigail and Betty, and conducts the witchcraft in the forest.
What is wrong with Betty? There is nothing physically wrong with Betty. In this time period, the next assumption would be witchcraft. They believe she has been possessed by the devil. In reality, she is scared and acting sick to avoid getting in trouble for being in the forest the night before.
Why does Parris suggest calling in Reverend Hale? Rev. Hale knows all things witchcraft. He is very experienced, so Parris believes Hale will find out if she’s under the Devil’s curse or not.
Who are Ann and Thomas Putnam? What do they suggest is Betty’s problem? What is their motivation for suggesting this? Ann and Thomas Putnam are townspeople of Salem. All of their children have died except for Ruth. Ruth is now experiencing what they believe to be the same curse as Betty, and was in the forest with the girls the night before. They blame everything on the witchcraft and act as if everything is out of their hands. Ann refers to their sickness as a “stroke of hell.”
Rev. Parris is worried that Abigail’s actions have jeopardized something important – What is jeopardized? Parris is worried that his reputation is at stake. He already has enemies, but has fought for three years trying to get everyone to like him. He fears that if people believe Abigail has taken part in witchcraft, that they will think less of him.
Who is Ruth? What is wrong with her? How do the Putnams tie her problem to Betty’s? Ruth is the only surviving child of Ann and Thomas Putnam. She is experiences similar issues as Betty. They believe both girls are possessed by the devil because they danced in the forest under the moonlight.
What does the conversation between Abigail, Mercy Lewis, Mary Warren, and Betty reveal about their recent activities? They all knew what they did was wrong. However, to avoid trouble, they all blamed it on other people who were innocent. They were scared of the punishment they would receive for dancing, conjuring Ruth’s sisters’ spirits, being naked, and drinking blood from Tituba’s cauldron.
What will Abigail bring to those who breath a word of truth? Abigail says, “I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you” (20). This is suggesting great harm, maybe even implying that she will stab anyone who tells the truth. She continues to describes how she witnessed the murder of her parents by marauding Indians, so she easily convinces the others she is capable of violence.
Give three characteristics of John Proctor. John Proctor is a farmer in his mid thirties. He hates hypocrites, is powerful of body, even-tempered, and is not easily led.
What event transpired between Abigail and John Proctor prior to the beginning of Act One? John Proctor had an affair with Abigail. When his wife found out, Abigail was released from working for their family.
What does Abigail say about Elizabeth Proctor? How might this affect the outcome of the play? Abigail says that Elizabeth is a sickly wife for John, she’s a cold, sniveling woman, and is blackening Abigail’s name in the village. She may later accuse Elizabeth of being a witch in order to get rid of her.
What happens to Betty when she hears the Lord’s name? She claps her ears and whines loudly. Everyone believes she is possessed by the devil and that is why she is cringing at the name of God.
Why didn’t the Putnams like the Nurses? The Nurses have land that the Putnams believe belong to them.
What does Rebecca say about Betty’s condition? Rebecca realizes it is not witchcraft. She tells everyone that they must pray in order to heal Betty.
Give two examples that Proctor, Putnam, and Corey give for why Parris is an ineffective minister. The first reason is because of the content of his preaching. The men feel that Parris focuses too much on evil and the negative in his Sabbath messages; Rebecca Church notes that many people are afraid to bring their children to meeting because of this. The second major reason the men give for Reverend Parris’s ineffectiveness as a minister is his overconcern with money and material things. Parris complains about his salary, claiming that he is Harvard-educated and has given up a lucrative business in Barbados to serve in Massachusetts Colony; he is “not used to poverty”, and has even asked for the deed to the house provided for him by the community.
What is the Putnam’s grievance over land? What significance might this have? Thomas Putnam’s grievance over land is between him and John Proctor. It involves who has the right to take timber off of a certain piece of land. Both men claim that the land is theirs. Proctor says that he bought the land five months ago from Mr. Nurse. Putnam claims that the land was in his grandfather’s will. Proctor then asserts that Putnam’s grandfather was in the habit of claiming land that was not his own. Putnam covets land. He wants every inch that he can steal from others. Putnam may well use the hysteria over witches to secure more land for himself.
Describe Giles Corey in one sentence. Giles is mainly motivated by money and land, but doesn’t come off as very smart, as he ends up getting his wife accused of witchery.
How does Miller describe Reverend Hale? Reverend Hale is almost forty years old and is a “tight-skinned, eager-eyed intellectual.” He is very proud of his craft (career) of witch-hunting and is excited to finally put his skills and years of learning to use. He considers himself a specialist on witches, although he has never seen one first-hand. The only allegedly witch he has encountered turned out to be innocent. Despite this setback, he is certain that witches and evil exist and that they can be proved through science: “We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise.”
How does Hale confuse Tituba? What is the significance of their conversation? Hale starts off by being harsh, and demanding that she confess: “When did you compact with the devil?” When she does confess, he immediately treats her kindly, leading her along in her confession, saying that she is “God’s instrument put in our hands”. It is quite a turn-around, and very confusing. The conversation is significant because she is the first to break down and give a detailed accusation of other women, AND it isn’t until after she does that Hale treats her like an angel. This made Abigail realize that she can place the blame on other people in order to shift the attention away from her. Tituba’s conversation with Hale is a catalyst that will start the whole drama.
How and by whom are the other villagers accused of witchcraft? What is the motivation of the girls’ accusations? How many people are accused on the last page of act one? Abigail, along with the other girls who went in the forest, are accusing villagers of witchcraft by odd things they do. They want to get rid of people they do not like, but also want to shift the blame to others. On the last page of act one, eleven people have been accused of witchcraft.

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