Crucible – Essay Notes

Choose a play in which a character makes a crucial error.

Explain what the error is and discuss to what extent it is important to your understanding of the character’s situation in the play as a whole.

Answers to questions on drama should address relevantly the central concern(s)/theme(s) of the text and be supported by reference to appropriate dramatic techniques such as: conflict, characterisation, key scene(s), dialogue, climax, exposition, dénouement, structure, plot, setting, aspects of staging (such as lighting, music, stage set, stage directions . . .), soliloquy, monologue . . .

Proctor and his truth in court.

Describe/ explain the circumstances of the court scene.

Explain what events/ actions brought Proctor to tell this unfortunate truth.

Explain how his character is affected in the aftermath.


Name of text, name of writer, date of text, gist of the plot, intention.

          This essay will…


This essay will show what the error is and discuss to what extent it is important to your understanding of the character’s situation in the play as a whole.

This essay will look at Proctor’s error, and show how his character was led to it, and later affected by it.

Section One: Proctor in Court

         Crucial error – telling the truth – “I have known her, sir, I have known her!” – Puritan societal values – excludes himself from the body of the church – telling the truth separates him from his society – biblical connotation/ interpretation of “known” – euphemistic – Proctor wants the truth known so badly that he is willing to exile himself.

         He insists that his wife will confirm this truth, but she tries to save his reputation by lying for him. He is discredited in court because his view – my wife cannot lie” – is shown to be false. The word “cannot” is key – suggest Proctor feels she is not able – when it is exposed her whole character is put in question.

Section Two: What led to the confession?

         Proctor was compelled to tell the truth – knew the witch-hysteria was a lie – knew Abigail was lying – appalled that the town was being run by the girls – “all the crazy children…” – WC “children” – the town’s elders have been overthrown – justice inverted.

         Wants to free his wife (loyalty) – falsely accused of witchcraft after “poppet” found – needle in Abigail – “Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail?” – hypocrisy of believing one and not the other – the innocence of the accusers is never questioned – “I’ll not give my wife to vengeance!” – Proctor states his firm opposition to the court – emphatic, shouted defiance – ref to Abigail’s desire for revenge for the end of the affair – “she thinks to dance on…” – Proctor understands Abigail’s motives – the court does not – this is leading to innocent people being killed – Wants to show Abigail is not morally pure.

Section Three: Impact of the error

         Immediately, the court condemns both John and Elizabeth – they have been “proven” liars – “She spoke nothing of lechery, and this man has lied!” – “Lechery” – sin Proctor accused AW of – the court feels vindicated – it can go on believing AW.

         Proctor is imprisoned – accused of witchcraft – he must lie to save his life – he signs his confession but then tears it when he realises it will ruin his family’s reputation – “…when I sold my friends” – because of his suffering he discovers the value of integrity.

         Refuses to name other “witches” even though it means he will hang – “I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor” – he finally is able to forgive himself for his earlier sins. (“some shred” – only a little, but more than he saw before).

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