The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Reading Journal

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Chapter or section

What happened (events, places,…)

Response (thoughts, reactions, questions,…)

Words and Quotations

Act 1

The first Act plays in the upper bedroom of Reverend Samuel Parris’ home in Salem Massachusetts. It is a morning in the spring of 1692.

Parris is kneeling beside the bed of his daughter, Betty Parris, praying while she lies in it inert.

His slave Tituba, that he brought with him from Barbados, enters. She asks about Betty and is clearly worried about the child, but Parris yells at her to get out.

His niece, Abigail Williams, a seventeen year old beautiful girl, who sadly is an orphan, comes in. She announces that Susan Walcott is here from Doctor Griggs. The Doctor has not found any medicine for this situation in his books. After Susan leaves, Parris confronts Abbigail about what he saw in the forest the night before. He saw her and his daughter dancing around a fire while Tituba sang foreign songs and someone running around naked in the woods. They quarrel for a while until Mrs Ann Putnam, a bothered woman in her middle forties, enters. She asks how high Betty had flown and tells the rumors she has heard going around town. Her own daughter was touched by the devil and now too is sick.

In the first act I got a first impression of what the writing-style is like and what the 1690-1700 were like. Slavery is still a normal thing and societies structures and rules are totally different from today. Children are supposed to be quiet, unless asked to speak, and obedient at all times. Religion was the highest priority and you judged people by how religious they were.

My first thoughts on the different characters were thatI didn’t like the Putnams instantly. Mercy Lewis also fell right into my list of people I disliked. Parris seemed to be nice in the beginning, because in the first act I only saw him as a worried father.

The girls lying became clear instantly and made me furious how they were already so selfish in the first act.

inert p.13

propriety p.18

parish p.20

ail p.21

corroborating p.23

Act 1

Thomas Putnam enters and says he heard that Parris sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly. Mrs Putnam interrupts and rambles on about how all her children died at birth but one and that someone must have murdered them. Putnam’s servant Mercy Lewis, a fat, sly, merciless girl of eighteen enters saying she wanted to see how Betty is, enters. Parris leaves the room to go downstairs and lead some waiting people in a psalm. He leaves along with Mr and Mrs Putnam.

Abigail and Mercy talk about what has happened to Ruth and try to wake Betty without success. They try to get their stories of last night straight incase they get questioned. Mary Warren, a seventeen year old subservient, comes in and starts panicking about how the village is going to call them witches. It comes to light that Abigail drank blood as a charm to kill Goody proctor, the wife of the family she used to work for. Betty wakes up and shouts various things, calls out for her dead mother and then collapses on her bed again.

Proctor, a farmer in his middle thirties, enters the room. Mary is startled and scared, because she was supposed to stay home. He sends her away in rage and starts talking to Abigail.

There is a long text about the town and its people in the first act as well. It was very informative about how life and the people were back then, which was highly conservative.

I didn’t quite understand what was really going on with Betty. Was she only pretending, or was she mentally ill?

Mary Warren seems to be an innocent girl who got herself dragged into something bad involuntarily. She wants to do the right thing and tell the others the truth but is held up by fear of the other girls. She is weak in comparison to the others.

Act 1

They had a secret relationship of a kind, but he doesn’t want to see her anymore. While they talk the lyrics of the psalm downstairs wake Betty with the words: “going up to Jesus“. She screams and doesn’t stop until Rebecca Nurse comes in and stands over the child. Rebecca was the wife of Francis Nurse and has a long dispute going on between her and the Putnams. Parris, Rebecca, the Putnams and Proctor argue about what has happened to the children and if witchcraft is involved. The discussion takes a turn and starts criticizing Parris’ work and behavior ending in a quarrel between Proctor and Putnam.

John Hale of Beverly enters. He is nearly forty and a tight-skinned, eager-eyed intellectual. Hale was called here to ascertain witchcraft. He takes a look at Betty and wants to talk to Tituba after hearing the stories of last night. Abigail starts to tell stories about Tituba forcing her to drink blood every night. Tituba gets accused of having power over Betty and of working with the devil. She defends herself and says she doesn’t work for the Devil and that someone else is bewitching the children. Tituba also says she saw four people with the Devil. All of a sudden Abigail and Betty start listing names of who they saw with Lucifer and the curtain falls while they are still listing names.

Proctor seems like a very serious private man. He seems like the type of person who concentrates on his work and usually does what he thinks is right. Except that you find out he had an affair with the young Abigail. However he seems to regret it deeply, even though he still has a sort of interest towards Abigail.

contiguous p.32

entity p.32

inculcation p.38

lascivious p.40

yeomanry p.40

licentiuous p.44

Act 2

Act two plays in the common room of Proctor’s house, eight days later. Elizabeth and Proctor enter the room and make small talk about the farm and the food while they eat. Tension builds when she subtly asks about the time he spends in Salem, hinting about the affair he had. She also tells him that their servant Mary is there today because of a court hearing. They start arguing about his affair with Abigail and that he must tell the court that she told him it had nothing to do with witchcraft.

Mary returns from Salem and tells them about the horrible trials and that 39 women were arrested and Goody Osburn will hang. She says she is an official of the court and must go to Salem every day now for a while. When Proctor hears this he wants to go whip her for being disobedient but she stands her ground and explains that she saved Elizabeths life today when denying that she had to do anything with Satan or witchcraft. Proctor sends her to bed. Elizabeth and him discuss what to do next for they could both be accused. She worries that Abigail wants to get rid of her and take her place.

In Act two I got a feel for the relationship between Proctor and his wife. It is somewhat complicated but you can also feel a deep obligation and at least a kind of love between the two.

Mary seems totally clouded and distraught. She knows that what the girls and her are doing is wrong, but she doesn’t know how to stop it now. Most of all she is scared what might happen to her if she goes against the other girls.

The whole szene reminded me of the times of National Socialism. People were doing things they knew were wrong, because they were afraid for their own lives. Those who protested were killed or tortured and their families were automatically endangered. The Salem witch-trials were no different. Also both tragic histories have misused religious reasons in common (against Jews, against witches).

pious p.62

wily p.62

Hale enters and talks to them about accused people and that Elizabeth was mentioned in court. He starts to ask them questions about their behavior, why they don’t go to church that often or why one of their sons isn’t baptized yet. He askes them to recite the Commandments and Proctor forgets one. Hale is clearly not pleased and wishes them a good night. When he is about to leave Elizabeth encourages Proctor to tell Hale about what Abigail told him. As they discuss this Giles and Francis Nurse enter. Their wives have been taken and they start arguing with Hale and telling them what they have been accused of. Cheever comes in and announces that he has a warrant for Elizabeth. Abigail has charged her. Cheever asks if they have any poppets in their home. He discovers the poppet that Mary gave her, so they fetch her. While Elizabeth goes to get her they find a needle in the poppet and Cheever tells them that Abigail was struck with pain in court today and that they found a needle in her belly at exactly the same spot.

Mary comes down and explains that it is her poppet and that she made it in court today. They attempt to take Elizabeth, but Proctor rips the warrant in half. They chain Elizabeth and take her away. After Giles and Francis leave Proctor tries to persuade Mary to tell the judges what really happened, but she resists. She says she cannot tell, because the others would turn on her.

wrath p.73

grapple p.74

Act 3

The third act is set in the vestry room of the Salem meeting house, now serving as the anteroom of the General Court. We hear a prosecutor’s voice, Judge Hathorne’s, asking a question, then a woman’s voice, Martha Corey’s, replying. He accuses her of being a witch and of bewitched the girls, but she denies the accusations. Gile’s voice roars from the crowd claiming he has evidence that his wife is innocent. He gets carried out by Herrick, followed by Judge Hathorne and Debuty Governor Danforth.

Danforth and Giles argue about his stunt in court, but Giles persuades him to hear him out. Francis comes forth and says he also has proof that his wife is innocent and that the girls are frauds. Mary and Proctor enter. They tell the judge that the girls are lying and only pretending to be bewitched. Mary confirms this and Danford decides to let them speak in front of the open court after arguing with Proctor for a long time about his intentions.

In court Giles accuses Putnam of urging his daughter to cry witchery upon George Jacobs, because Putnam wants Jacobs land.

His proof is that an honest man heard Putnam telling his daughter she’d given him a fair gift of land the day she cried witchery upon Jacobs. But Giles refuses to name the honest man for he would go to jail if he did.

This act made me so angry. I couldn’t stop thinking of how stupid all these people were acting and how people lost their lives because of it. I mean how can it be that so many people had to die because a few stupid girls were acting to be bewitched.

The system was even more dumb. I mean they don’t have a proper way of finding out if the accused person is really a witch or not. They just torture them until they give up and confess, and if they don’t confess they just get hanged. Is that the best they could come up with? I mean seriously? And no one even thinks of really protesting against this system, they all just say okay, well they know what they’re doing, whatever. At least they thought of protest is going around by the end of the book.

forbidding p.77

contemptuous p.78

pretence p.81

The next to speak is Proctor, who explains to the judge that one of the girls who like the rest today was also screaming names she supposedly saw with the devil until she confessed that it was all a big lie. The judges argue with each other for a while and finally read Mary’s disposition. They get the other girls and question them thoroughly about their behavior, if they are only pretending and about the affair between Proctor and Abigail. They fetch Elizabeth to prove the story true. Danforth asks her why she dismissed Abigail from her service. She rings with the truth for a while and then tells a lie to protect her husbands good name.

After she is taken away again Abigail and the other girls pretend to see a bird by the ceiling. They start repeating what Mary says until she cracks and turns against Proctor, calling him a Devils man. Danforth sends Proctor and Giles to jail while Hale denounces these proceedings and quits the court.

probity p.90

disposition p.90

apparitions p.92

guile p.92

augur p.92

incredulously p.93

harlotry p.99

Act 4

The fourth act is set in a cell in Salem jail, that fall.

Drunk Herrick enters to wake up Sarah Good and Tituba, to escort them to an other cell. They tell him the devil is coming for them and taking them to Barbados. Hopkins, a guard, enters and takes them away to a different cell. Danforth, Judge Hathorne and Cheever enter. They discuss Mr Parris behavior which has been off lately and Reverend Hale who has been praying with the damned. Parris arrives and announces that his niece and Mercy Lewis have been missing the past three days. He thinks they stole from him and boarded a ship, because all his money is gone. Furthermore there is a rumor going around that there is a rebellion going on in Andover. Parris fears this might cause a riot here in Salem and he also fears for his safety when people with good names are hanged.

Hale enters and tells them that Rebecca and the others have not confessed yet. Danforth sends for Elizabeth. When she arrives Hale and Danforth try to convince her to get Proctor to confess. She finally says she’ll talk to him but nothing more. Proctor enters and they are left alone to talk. She informs him that Giles has died and Rebecca won’t confess. He looks for guidance in her but she only tells him to do what he thinks is right. Proctor tells Hathrone that he wants his life, and Hathrone goes to get Danforth.

This act just proves that everything is alway political in some way. The judges didn’t really care about Proctors life or soul, they cared about his status in the village and what it would do to the court if he hangs. They were afraid of protest and were only out for his signature.

righteous p.112

discontent p.112

adamant p.114

cleave p.115

contend p.116

gibbet p.118

As Danforth enters he questions Proctor about his bond with the devil. Rebecca enters, she is weak and shocked to see Proctor confessing. As the questioning gets more intense Danforth asks who he saw with the devil, but Proctor says he saw no one. He starts defending Rebecca and the others and Parris and Hale start to get worried that he’ll not stick to his confession. They quickly give him his testimony to sign. He signs it but doesn’t want to hand it over. A great discussion unravels that leads to Proctor deciding that he will hang rather than confess a lie.

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