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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes
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1. Compare the 1692 Salem witch hunt with the
Communist "witch hunt" of the 1950s in America. Were the
investigations and trials conducted differently? Was a particular
type of person singled out for persecution?

2. What social conditions made such a thing as the Salem
witchcraft possible? Do any of these conditions exist today? If
so, is there a chance that this might happen again?

3. The Crucible had little effect in stopping the
"Redbaiting" it was written against. Why do you think it failed?
Was there anything Arthur Miller could have done differently in
writing the play to make more people listen to him?


1. Discuss the love triangle of Elizabeth-John-Abigail.
What effect does this tense relationship have on each character?
What effect would it have on the community if it were made

2. Compare Elizabeth Proctor with Abigail Williams. How
well do they understand each other? What does John see in each
of them? What makes John reject Abigail and confess to

3. Discuss Proctor's "nihilism," or desire for destruction.
Where does it come from? How does he escape from it and find
his "goodness" in the end?

4. In Act IV, Elizabeth tells John Proctor that "whatever
you will do, it is a good man does it." What does she mean?
What is the "shred of goodness" that he finds in himself when
he tears up his confession?


1. The outbreak of witch madness in Salem was tiny
compared to the mania that ravaged Europe for two hundred
years before and after 1692. Compare the American version to
its European "model." Did they start differently? Is there any
reason the Salem witchcraft was over so quickly, while in
Europe it raged for years, killing thousands as compared to
Salem's twenty?

2. What are the psychological conditions that are necessary
to produce mass hysteria? Are we immune today?


1. What is the religious background of the Salem
witchcraft? Were these people fanatics who were half-crazy
anyway? Or were they noble visionaries who somehow went

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes

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