The Crucible Inquiry Assignment

Mr. Steel


The Salem Witch Trials

1. When did the Salem Witch Trials take place?

2. What current US state was the home for the trials?

3. How many people were charged? How many were put to death?

4. How did the Puritan family size contribute to the problem?

5. What is a theocracy, and what role did theocracy play in the historical episode?

6. Who was Cotton Mather, and why is he significant for our understanding of Miller’s play?

7. Why were women particularly singled out during the trials?

8. Where is the witch trial episode thought commonly to have commenced?

9. Who were the first three people accused of witchcraft, and what made them easy targets?

10. Why were the accusations against Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse particularly disturbing to the people of Salem?

11. What is “spectral evidence”? Why was it important during the Witch Trials, and what was particularly controversial about it?

12. How was Giles Corey murdered and why?

13. How were the accused and the executed treated by the community?

14. What is a “witch cake,” and how was it used during the witch trials?

15. What role is Tituba thought to have played in the supposed witchcraft practices around Salem?

16. What was the touch test and how was it supposed to work?

17. What did Anne Putnam eventually confess after the witch trials had ended?


The Puritans

1. Who were the Puritans? What distinguished them from other Christian sects?

2. Why is King Charles I significant for understanding the history of the Puritans?

3. What was the Great Migration, and what was its cause?

4. Who were the Pilgrims? Where did they go, and how did they get there?

5. Who was John Winthrop? Why was he a controversial figure, and what did he do?

6. What made the Puritan population in New England distinct from populations in the other American colonies?

7. What did the Puritans who came to North America intend to do?

8. Who was Roger Williams, and why is he significant? What important constitutional principle did he pioneer among the Puritans?

9. Who was Anne Hutchinson, and what made her an important, controversial figure in the history of Puritanism in the New England colonies?

10. Enumerate 5 basic Puritan religious dogmas.

11. How is the Puritan stress on hard work and moral uprightness seen as relevant to understanding the success of modern-day America?



1. Define McCarthyism.

2. What happened during the “Second Red Scare”?

3. What is a “blacklist”?

4. What factors built up to a crescendo in McCarthyism?

5. What was the HUAC, and what was its mandate?

6. What was a “loyalty review,” and how did they affect people in America at the time?

7. Who was J. Edgar Hoover, and what role did he have in this episode of American history?

8. What sorts of things did the FBI do to assist the HUAC in rooting out so-called communists?

9. Explain the problem of pleading the fifth amendment upon being subpoenaed to an HUAC hearing.

10. From where did McCarthyism garner its popular support?

11. Explain the role of “communist plots” and “conspiracy theories” in McCarthyism.

12. How is McCarthyism related to what transpires in Miller’s play?

13. Who is one of the most famous opponents of McCarthyism? How did he help weaken McCarthyism’s hold on America?

14. Why do some people say that McCarthyism still exists in other form even today? Explain using examples.


Final Reflection on The Crucible


In the space of three paragraphs, reflect on Arthur Miller’s play as an example of social criticism. What lessons does the Crucible teach? Can you think of ways in which its lessons might be used to understand life today? Identify some and elaborate.