The Crucible – Notes from class


Choose a play in which a central character experiences rejection, isolation or loneliness.

Show how the dramatist makes you aware of the character’s situation and discuss how it adds to your understanding of character and/or theme in the play as a whole.

Introduction:

 

  • “The Crucible”
  • 1953
  • Arthur Miller
  • Salem – 1600s – witch trials
  • Proctor is isolated – by the town – by the trials – by his own guilt

T – We are made aware of Proctor’s isolation when we learn he no longer attends Paris’s church.

I – He complains that Parris is a bad minister.

Q – “I see no light of God in that man”

E – “light of God” – irony – a minister should be a good man

E – This helps us to understand Proctor’s character, as he is excluded from the church in a religious society.

S – Proctor also complains that Parris is more interested in money than his parishoners.

Q – “For twenty weeks he preached nothing but golden candlesticks”

E – Hyperbole

E – This helps us to understand Proctor’s character, as he sees that religion should not be concerned with money – he thinks Parris is a hypocrite.

C – These points show Proctor is isolated from the church in Salem, a dangerous position in a religious society.

 

T – We are made aware of Proctor’s isolation when we learn he and his wife are accused by Abigail of witchcraft.

I – Proctor separates himself from the rest of Salem by saying Abigail is a liar when everyone else believes her.

Q – “You bring down heaven and raise up a whore!”

E – Contrast “bring down” and “raise up” – society is being reversed.

E – This helps us to understand Proctor’s character has integrity – he wants to show the truth to Salem, even though he is in a minority.

S – Proctor also pushes himself out of the court’s good opinion when he confesses to having had an affair.

Q – “I have known her, sir. In the proper place, where my beasts are bedded.”

E – Archaic language – shows he is a man of the Bible.

E – This helps us to understand Proctor’s character as he is willing to cast away his reputation to save his wife.

C – These points show Proctor is isolated from the Court because he does not believe Abigail, and is willing to tell the unpopular truth.

 

T – We are made aware of Proctor’s isolation when his marriage is torn apart by his own sense of guilt.

I – Initially, he believes that she has not forgiven him for his affair with Abigail.

Q – “Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer!”

E – Metaphor – Hyperbole

E – This helps us to understand Proctor’s character as he feels Elizabeth cannot forgive his unfaithfulness – he is isolated from his wife.

S – However, Elizabeth makes clear that it is his own sense of guilt which is stopping the couple from moving on.

Q – “The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you.”

E – Metaphor for Proctor’s guilt.

E – This helps us to understand Proctor’s character as his wife cannot help him to patch up the marriage until he forgives himself.

C – These points show Proctor is isolated from his wife by his own guilt following the affair.

 

Conclusion

Proctor is isolated from Salem, the Court and his own wife.

These three things reveal that he is a man of integrity, willing to be unpopular to do the right thing.

Ultimately, his isolation is proven to be right – the court eventually collapses.

Truth and goodness prevail/ succeed.

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