In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, which explores the consequences of the McCarthyism scare of the 1950s, students explore the central topics of history, community, herd mentality and truth.
In this unit on Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, students will explore the thematic topics of history, community, and truth. Written during the McCarthyism scare of the 1950s, the play underscores the importance of remembering the events of our collective past. In exploring the circumstances of the Salem witch trials, which occurred centuries prior to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communist “witch hunt,” Miller raises questions about the devastating impact that corruption, herd mentality, and vengeance can have on a community.
In addition to the play, students will read several paired texts that add to their analysis of the core text. Through reading excerpts of Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, which is the story retold from the slave’s, Tituba’s, perspective, students can analyze the impact of narration and point of view in a work of fiction. The nonfiction readings “Herd Behavior,” “On Tragedy,” and “McCarthyism” provide a foundation on which students can build their analysis of the play. And finally, Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” and Margaret Atwood’s poem “Half-Hanged Mary” allow students to explore similar themes in different genres.
While reading and analyzing the works of fiction and nonfiction in this unit, students will be working to develop their literary analysis skills, speaking and listening skills, and writing skills.
At Match, students have a Composition class 4 days per week in addition to English class. Below, we have included Supplementary Composition Projects to reflect the material covered in our composition course. For teachers who are interested in including these Composition projects but do not have a separate Composition course, we have included a “Suggested Placement” to note where these projects would most logically fit into the English unit. While the Composition projects may occasionally include content unrelated to English 10, most have both a skill and content connection to the work students are doing in their English 10 class.
In the English lessons of Unit 2, students will focus on analyzing author’s craft, investigating how authors use various techniques to create mood, tone, character, point of view and theme. In these parallel Composition projects, students will learn to craft effective literary analysis essays expressing their thoughts on various authors’ uses of literary techniques to create mood, tone, character, and point of view. Additionally, students will be asked to try on various techniques for appealing to an audience, including practice with establishing a specific tone and mood in their own writing. While the writing days described in the English unit are exclusively on-demand pieces of writing, the Composition projects are a blend of on-demand writing and process writing so students have exposure to writing for a range of topics, timeframes, and purposes.
See Text Selection Rationale
There are notes throughout this unit that encourage the teacher to use analysis of their students’ writing in order to determine the areas of focus for writing instruction in this unit. One suggested area of focus is on teaching students to use partial quotations to support their analysis and arguments rather than entire sentences or multiple sentences. A potential spiraling area of focus is ensuring students write a thesis statement that addresses the prompt and previews what is to come in the essay.
Below are the writing focus areas that are recommended for the Composition projects described in this unit. Each focus area comes from a particular row and column of our Composition Writing Rubric and more detail about each area of focus is provided in the description of each specific project.The teacher should feel free to substitute or revise these writing focus areas in order to meet his/her students where they are and help students improve their writing in ways that authentically address the students' areas for growth.
plot, characterization, setting, stage directions, symbolism, characterization, point of view/perspective, tone, metaphor, rising action, irony, tragic hero, paradox, power dynamics
Integ- (integrity), be- (begrudge), def- (defamation)
“The Lottery”: profusely, uneasily, reprimand, jovial, paraphernalia, perfunctory, soberly, paradox, petulantly
The Crucible: persecuted (3), sect (4), fanatic (4), justice (6), paradox (6), vengeance (7), dissembling (8), propriety (8), conjure (10), abomination (10), begrudge (11), vindictive (14), formidable (15), prodigious (23), defamation (29), anarchy (30), trepidation (37), fraud (50), conviction (50), falter (52), ameliorate (54), civilly (57), base (59), daft (65), bewilder (66), wrath (75), contentious (79), pretense (82), immaculate (92), incredulously (96), slovenly (104), transfixed (106), denounce (111), prodigious (114), gaunt (115), remedy (117), adamant (120), mercy (120), incredulous (130)
The Crucible: land-lust (7), theocracy (6), the Mayflower (6), the Puritans, “soiled my name” (12), Goody___ (12), “the Fiend” (34), ordained (62), poppets (69), deposition (82), the Gospel (84), “ipso facto” (93), “wash your hands of this” (Macbeth reference), poppet (95), anti-Christ (111)
Students will become aware of the concept of a theocracy and also a paradox. Students will discover the strict religious mindset and values of the Puritans who came to Massachusetts in the 1600s and will explore the role this mindset played in causing their demise. Students will also be exposed to McCarthyism and its impact on 1950s America.
This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
“The Lottery” pp. 1 – 3
Distinguish between mood and tone in the first pages of “The Lottery.”
Independently identify and analyze symbols used in “The Lottery."
“The Lottery” — pp. 5-end
Finish “The Lottery” and explain how Jackson’s tone serves to underscore the horror of the events in the story.
Reexamine “The Lottery” for clues early on that hint at the eventual ending.
Explain theme in a short written response that addresses Checks For Understanding from the previous unit’s test.
The Crucible — Act I, pp. 1-7
Explain the herd mentality phenomenon.
Analyze the full setting and explain how the setting helped to create the herd mentality that caused the witch trials.
The Crucible — Act I, pp. 7-19
Establish the power dynamics, conflict, and characterization as revealed in Act 1.
The Crucible — Act I, pp. 19- top of 24
Characterize the relationship between John Proctor and Abigail.
The Crucible — Act I, pp. 24-30
Identify and describe the conflict between the Putnams and the Nurses as developed by Miller in this scene.
The Crucible — Act I, pp. 31-38
Characterize Hale and explain what he represents in the play.
Explain how the role of the Devil has changed in religion over time and explain how the people of Salem viewed him.
The Crucible — Act I, pp. 38-46
I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem pp. 55 – 63
Explain the difference in perspective and tone between the excerpts from Condé’s book and Miller’s play.
The Crucible — Act II, pp. 46-53
Analyze Proctor and Elizabeth’s relationship and identify each of these characters’ tragic flaws.
The Crucible — Act II, pp. 53-60 and pp. 60-67
Draw parallels between McCarthyism and the events of The Crucible.
Explain events of the rising action and the irony of the situation.
The Crucible — Act II, pp. 67-76
Explain John Proctor’s decision to go to the court.
The Crucible — Act III, pp. 77-81 and pp. 82-92
Analyze the symbolism of the courtroom and the significance of Danforth.
Track Mary Warren’s changing emotions throughout this scene.
The Crucible — Act III, pp. 92-96 and pp. 96-101
Continue tracking Mary Warren’s emotions.
The Crucible — Act III, pp. 102-111
Examine Miller’s use of suspense.
Continue to track Mary Warren’s emotions for open response.
The Crucible — Act III
Produce a written analysis of Mary Warren’s changing emotions.
The Crucible — Act IV, pp. 112-113
I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem — p. 91
Identify and compare perspective in two texts.
The Crucible — Act IV, pp. 114-118 and 119-128
Explain Danforth’s motives in this scene and analyze Proctor’s choice.
The Crucible — Act IV, pp. 128-end
Explain John Proctor’s tragic flaw.
Explain what makes The Crucible a tragedy and John Proctor its tragic hero.
“Half Hanged Mary”
Explain the tone and author’s purpose of specific lines of the poem.
Draw connections to events in The Crucible.