The Crucible – Act One

Miller’s reasons for people’s behaviour during the Salem witch trials are;

* A violent overturning of the government had resulted in a group now controlling and substituting for the government. (p.16 lines 2-5)

* Because of this, Miller says the people must have been confused and frustrated so it’s not surprising when they start to blame every misfortune on underlying forces. (p.16 lines 5-10) See Q.12.

* Miller says that none of this was written or spoken officially, but when the accusations did appear, there was nothing to stop people lying on the victims with all the force of their frustration. (p.16 lines 10-15)

* The fact that the backbone of Salem (the church) was a complete paradox. An example of theocracy. (p.16 line 16-33)

* The witch-hunts enabled the people to accuse and say things to people that ordinarily they would not; long winded neighbourly grudges could be resolved easily. (p.16 lines 34 – End)

What is Thomas Putnam’s reason for wishing ill to the Parris family? (see p.22-23 and 31-32)

Thomas Putnam’s reason for wishing ill to the Parris family is that Parris is the minister of Salem, and Putnam thinks that his family name had been shamed because his brother in law was rejected for the position of minister of Salem previously. (p.23 lines 2-5)

What is the difference between Rebecca Nurse’s view of the situation (p.32) and Mrs Putnam’s (p.33)? Why is there this difference?

The difference between Rebecca Nurse’s view of the situation and Ann Putnam’s is that Rebecca takes a very calm approach to it by saying that the girls are just hiding from the consequences and playing silly childish games. (p.32 lines 24-31) Whereas Ann Putnam instantly jumps to conclusion by saying that this behaviour is suspicious and real. This is because her only child Ruth Putnam is in the same state as Betty so she automatically assumes her child is not lying. The two women don’t see eye to eye because Ann Putnam takes a disliking to Rebecca Nurse as she was the midwife to 3 out of 7 of her children who have died newborn. Also Rebecca Nurse had many children and grandchildren which is why Goody Putnam is jealous and angry.

What evidence is there to show that Abigail is the leader of the girls?

Evidence to show that Abigail is leader of the girls is;

* Abigail shakes Betty aggressively. (p.25 lines 19-21)

* Abigail insists they are all wrong. (p.26 lines 8-9)

* Abigail hits Betty when she is the first to say that Abigail drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor in the forest. (p.26 line 30)

* Abigail dictates what the girls as a group will admit to, and threatens them with murder if they were to admit to anything else. (p.26/27 lines 34-44)

How does Abigail end up accusing Tituba?

Abigail ends up accusing Tituba when Reverent Hale is interrogating her (p.45), when the atmosphere is very tense. Abigail is reluctantly feeding him leads accidentally. At that moment Goody Putnam walks in with Tituba to which Abigail sees that she is the ideal suspect and points to her. Abigail would have seen she was the ideal suspect because these were very racist times and Tituba played the part of a discriminated black slave – nothing more. The way in which Abigail accused Tituba was the same way in which the victims in the anti-communist courts would have accused others – you accuse someone else to get yourself out of trouble.

How does Tituba end up accusing Goody Good and Goody Osburn?

Tituba ends up accusing Goody Good and Goody Osburn in a similar way to the way in which she was accused by Abigail. She is being whipped and is being interrogated by Hale. After she reluctantly gives Hale leads in her story (p.48/49), the men get frustrated and threaten to beat her to death if she doesn’t give them names. She gives in and the two names are suggested to her and they are who she accuses. This is also an example of how the anti-communist courts worked.

Comment on the ending of Act One from a dramatic point of view.

The whole of Act One is set in Betty’s room, this helps to build tension as there is no distraction with the location so your entire focus is on the characters. The tension is also built up from the point where Abigail and Betty are accusing other people of compacting with the devil within the village. The shouting rapidly becomes faster and the audience is really engrossed in the moment. Abigail shouts the final line which means the act ends on an exclamation mark, this is the crescendo. As soon as the last line has been said the curtain falls and this is the climax, the visual and sound aspects of the scene have both vanished so this has a surprising effect on the audience as it is a massive contrast to what they have just been watching.

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