Acts III & IV Guiding Questions



1. It seems that every time John Proctor, Giles Corey, and Francis Nurse try to defend their wives, they are accused of trying to overthrow the court. What would Rev. Parris have to lose if the defense's case was seriously considered? What would Danforth and the judges have to lose? (Nate)
Rev. Parris' niece and daughter would be lost, and he would lose trust from the people. Danforth and the judges would also lose their respect and trust from the people and they might me put to death for false accusations.

2. What does Abigail's refusal to answer Danforth's questions show aboute the status the trials have given her? (Nate)
The refusal of Abigail answering Danforth's questions shows that the status of the trials might not be entirely true and might be having made false accusations against people.

3. We noted before that public reputation can make or break one in Salem. How is this importance of reputation reflected in Act III? (Caitie)
The differing opinions of reputation are apparent in the acts of Reverend Parris. He, above all, fears the tainting of his reputation and the reputation of his daughter and his niece. When John Proctor, Giles Corey, and Francis Nurse come forward with accusations of fraud, Parris was the first to jump on their reputations in order to preserve his family's as good and holy people. John Proctor was heavily concerned with reputation as well. In Salem, John is known as an honest man, a simple farmer. He knew that the whole witch ordeal was Abby's awful attempt to get rid of Elizabeth, so she could have John all to herself. He knew he HAD to tell the courts that the whole thing was just a sick game. He knew that if he told the court about Abby, he would have to admit to lechery, thus inflicting a great amount of damage to both Abby's and his own reputation. In addition, Elizabeth Proctor, a woman known to have never told a lie in her life, recognizes the risk her husband's reputation is faced with. She abandons her own reputation, and lies for her husband. Danforth refuses to pardon the prisoners of witchcraft to protect his own reputation as a man strong with the power of justice. Reputation is certainly a major theme through the Crucible.

4. Danforth admonishes that "--a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it , there be no road between." In other words, theres is no room for honest disagreement as far as he's concerned. What are some modern day scenarios where those in authority have taken that approach? Are there instances where this type of thinking is justified? Explain you answer. (Caitie)
This black and white thinking can be observed in more recent times in the Red Scare, which The Crucible is directly linked to. During the 1950's, if the government feared that anyone who was not a devout capitalist, was a communist. Lives were flipped upside down, just as they were in Salem. One might also observe this thinking in the events of the Holocaust during WWII. The Nazi party oppressed anyone who was not a Nazi, and thus pressed many Europeans into their political party, against their will. Anyone whom they did not consider "Aryan" was thrown into concentration camps, stripped of all identity and refused their human rights. This thinking might be observed in even more recent time in the great debate over abortion. You're either Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. There are no exceptions; not even for victims of rape, or for those who's lives might be endangered in birth. I cannot observe a single instance in which this thinking is justified. There are almost always exceptions to the rule, there are always going to be those who fall into the shades of gray, those who take less radical positions.

5. Some of Salem's accused got into trouble merely because they stood up for those who had been arrested. The court obviously believed in guilt by association . What do you think about the theory of guilt by association? Can it ever be valid? Explain your answer. (Amanda)
The court believed just because you knew the convicted meant you were to also be accused of witchcraft. The judges believed that good "Christians" would welcome the court because they had nothing to hide and any who opposed the court would have something to fear. The theory of guilty by association can only be valid in some instances. If the person being accused of being guilty by association is deliberately protecting a convicted criminal then the law says they are guilty. But in the subject of witchcraft guilty by association is not valid because no one can force you to do something like witchcraft.

6. Explain Danforth's course of logic in refusing to pardon the remaining prisoners. What might he have to lose by doing so? (Amanda)
Danforth refuses to pardon the remaining prisoners because he wants only to protect his reputation and the court system's reputation. Releasing the prisoners would mean the court made a mistake in believing the hype on witchcraft.

7. What would Proctor's confession do for Danforth and Hathorne? What's in it for Proctor by refusing to confess? (Amanda)
Proctor's confession would solidify the fact that Danforth and Hathorne are doing the right thing, Proctor gets to keep his dignity and shows how corrupt the court is by refusing to confess.

8. What does Elizabeth mean when she says that John has his goodness now, and God forbid she should take it from him? (Jen)
Elizabeth means that he has decided to stay true to himself and God and that Proctor would rather tell the truth and be hung for it, than lie and have to live with the guilt and a bad reputation. She didn't want to take that from him becuase it's his decision and she trusts that he's weighed the consequences of it. She knows he's telling the truth about Abby and the girls.

9. Some might say that, in John Proctor's case, honesty was definitely not the best policy. After all, he couldn't save his friends and was hanged in the end. But given what we know about John's character, how do you think his life would have gone if he had confessed? (Jen)
If John had confessed his life would most likely have been miserable. I don't think he'd be able to live with himself knowing that he lied to save his own skin. His reputation would also be ruined because he sees himself as a holy and religious person, but the town would know of his affair with Abby and that he committed adultery. Proctor would rather be true to himself and God, than save himself and have his reputation soiled.


Back to The Crucible Home
Back to Home