Teaching Guide: Exploring The Crucible

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, The Crucible by Arthur Miller, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. Look at the examinations of Susanna Martin and Mary Warren. Knowing that Arthur Miller blended historical figures to create his characters for The Crucible, explain the similarities between the play and the transcripts of these two historical figures. Find textual evidence from the play to support your answer.
  2. How is public interest in the HUAC hearings, as shown in photographs of people attending the hearings, similar to public interest in the Salem trials as depicted in The Crucible? Find textual evidence from the play to support your answer.
  3. Read Jackie Robinson’s testimony. Explain how the motives behind naming minority groups as communists are similar to the motives behind naming outcasts of Salem Village as witches in The Crucible.
  4. After watching the film footage of Senator McCarthy at Fort Monmouth, make a list of all similarities between the communist search of the 1950s and the Salem witch hunt. In three to four sentences, discuss Miller’s purpose in using the Salem Witch Trials to express his views on McCarthyism.

Classroom activities

Ask students to label the map of Salem Village with specific scenes from The Crucible where the action takes place. Students should determine if the scene is part of the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, or resolution.

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