Tag Archives: play

The Crucible (Part Two)

Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Whether it be stealing cookies that were meant to be eaten after supper, or a murder that you didn’t commit, some day or another we will all be accused of something. And who knows, it may be true! In The Crucible, over ninety people are accused of witchcraft by a few young girls who just want to have a little fun, but don’t realize what their actions have caused. Yesterday, I talked about how this play reminds me of autumn and the eerie time around fall that I get. But this play also shows me how twisted some humans can be. When prominent men in society believe in the lies and pretendings of little girls, that’s when you know you’ve messed up. In the latter part of The Crucible, especially the third act, the whole plot line is of the trial where the judge brings up the accused and the accusers and lets them tell their side of the story. An interesting part would be the end of act three when Abigail says she sees a yellow bird up in the rafters, intent on attacking her. Coincidently, she is the only one who can see said bird. The court is dismissed as is act three. In the beginning of act four, we come to find out that Abigail and Mercy Lewis are missing, thought to be on a ship, taking her uncle’s money with her. We also learned earlier that Elizabeth Proctor is pregnant, which saved her from being hung. Her husband John, was accused by the girls, sort of as a payback for him telling the court about the affair he had with Abigail, of witchcraft and is sentenced to hang the next morning. Giles Corey, another one of the accused, has been pressed to death by big rocks. Early that morning, three people, including Proctor, are led to the gallows to be hanged.

The play is just astounding. What one accusation can lead to and the troubles it can cause is so good for us to learn about, even outside of the Salem Witch trials and just in general. If you read this book and learn one thing from it, let it be to not accuse someone until you have provable facts and do it in a polite and orderly manner. Don’t follow the examples of those young girls, who were childish and irresponsible, and cause harm and sadness to people who don’t deserve it. On a lighter note, I have the newest version of the movie adaptation in my queue on Netflix and I cannot wait to watch it! Happy reading everyone.

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The Crucible (Part One)

the crucible

Picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible

Fall is here again, and that means in October, television channels will start playing scary movies and people will pick up novels that tend to chill the spine. Halloween has always intrigued me because I love scary movies and I just enjoy that eerie vibe that is always around during this time of the year. The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a play that is historical based on the Salem Witch trials in 1692. Being a history buff, this story catches my attention and I have always been interested in this part of American history where everyone was superstitious and so quick to accuse another. Starting American History this year and going over the pilgrims and the Salem Witch trials in particular, just gives me that vague feeling of autumn and the things that come with the season.

The meaning of the word “crucible” normally is associated with metallurgy and the type of vessel made. Another meaning is “a severe, searching test or trial”. This is where we get the title of The Crucible because many people were tried for witchcraft but fewer people were hanged. In this play, the first scene starts out by the reader learning about the events that have previously gone on prior to the accusations of witchcraft. A young girl, the niece of Reverend Parris, Abigail Williams and her cousin Betty Parris, and some servant girls, Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren, have been involved in or seen some sort of witchcraft taking place with the family maid, Tituba. We learn later on in act one that Betty and the girls were dancing and there was some kind of charm going on that we perceive as being asked upon Tituba by Abigail. Abigail is a sly young girl, who is very cunning and overall not very nice or well-liked. While she is only seventeen, she tries to seduce John Proctor, a married man, and we later learn she has had an affair with him. In the beginning of act one, Betty Parris is in a coma, not thought to ever wake up. The Reverend goes down to his congregation in the parlor of his house to tell them what has happened, with everyone  thinking the whole situation is one of witchcraft. They question Tituba asking if she summoned the Devil and Abigail and Betty admit that they saw many women of the town with the Devil. The accusations and later, deaths, of nineteen men and women come from two little girls.

I think this whole event in history is just fascinating because it was a time when America was still in the stages of foundation and people were getting used to a new life in new settlements. Most of the accusations, historically, were made by poorer girls of society on the wealthy. They took out their anger on them, causing deaths and sadness to the families of the victims. What also surprises me is that the people of Salem, Massachusetts were so quick to judge people from the lies of little children. To me, they should have had the common sense to determine what these girls were saying was a lie, like the boy who cried wolf. However entrancing this story is, it’s always good to remember that it’s not actually a story: it is historical fiction based on something that really happened, which can be shocking and astounding. Learning about history, especially when it comes to the history of your country, can be beneficial when it comes to not making the same mistakes that the people of the past did before us.

The Importance of Being Earnest

In one of my AP classes we have to do an author study on a person who wrote influential and renowned essays during a certain time period. I chose Oscar Wilde, meaning I have to read his works of nonfiction and in two weeks, become a semi-expert of his style and tone. The only problem with this project is that my teacher’s copy of all of his essays in one book was stolen and our school library only has A Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest. I picked the latter to read first because it was the only book by Oscar Wilde in the nonfiction section (sorry library, a play isn’t nonfiction) and the novel would take too long to read for the amount of time (and the mountain of homework) that I have. The Importance of Being Earnest is only 60 pages long, but it packs in a comical and confusing tale about friendship and marriage. In it’s short three acts, you learn the story of John ‘Jack’ Worthing, and his friend Algernon Moncrieff. Jack has visited his friend’s house with the intention of proposing to Gwendolen Fairfax, Algernon’s cousin. At the same time, Algernon is in love with Jack’s adopted father’s granddaughter, who he now takes care of. She resides in Jack’s country home, where he goes by the name of Jack (using the name Ernest in the city), saying he has a younger brother named Ernest in London. Jack has never known his birth parents, he was found in a handbag on a train by his now adopted father. This is one of the factors that Lady Bracknell takes into consideration when she denies consent for Jack to marry her daughter Gwendolen. Algernon ends up going to Jack’s country home unannounced, professing his love for Cecily, Jack’s ward. He has also taken up the name Ernest, so Cecily thinks it is her ‘uncle’s’ black sheep brother. Gwendolen visits and chats with Cecily and they both find out the men they are engaged to go by the name of Ernest, which makes them think they are engaged to the same man. Jack arrives in mourning clothes, saying his brother Ernest has died. Algernon also shows up and the women question the two men. They get their stories straightened out and the situation is calmed. The next day, Jack finds out some things about his past: Lady Bracknell reveals that he and Algernon are brothers and Jack was named after his father, but she can’t recall the name. Jack looks in the Army Lists of the time his father was enlisted, discovering his name was John Ernest. This makes him happy because he was named after his father. In the end, the couples are with their rightful significant others and the whole ordeal is solved, and Jack has learned a lesson on the importance of being earnest.

If I were to compare this to another work of literature out there, it would have to be Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. In this particular play, the relationships are hard to keep track of and you really have to pay attention to who is playing who and what is going on. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Jack and Algernon are in a way telling some white lies about who they really are. This ties into the end where Jack actually learns the truth about who he is saying, “Gwendolen, it’s a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth.” This was a quote that I really had to stop and think about. To tell the truth without even knowing it to me would just be a correct assumption, but I’d like to hear some other input on this particular quote. To be earnest is to be serious in intention, purpose, or effort. At the very end of the play, Jack realizes the vital importance of being earnest in everything he does, whether it be maintaining his identity, proposing to the woman he loves, or telling the truth, even if he doesn’t know it yet.