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SUBJECTS — U.S./Colonial Period, 1945 - 1991 & Massachusetts;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Justice; Marriage;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Fairness.
1996 U.S. Version: Age 14+; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Drama; 124 minutes; Color;
1957 French Version: (English Subtitles) Age: 12+; Not rated; Drama; 108 minutes;
These films present Arthur Miller's play about the Salem Witchcraft Trials. The Crucible captures the sense of the late 1600s as well as the hysteria and injustice of the Red Scare of 1947 - 1956. The play and the movies raise several important questions, including: 1) when a society feels threatened, how far should it go in imposing tests of loyalty and requiring proofs of faith in commonly held beliefs; 2) how does a society ensure justice and fairness when it believes that its fundamental beliefs are under attack; and 3) should a person, in order to avoid an undeserved punishment, admit to something he didn't do and cooperate in an unjust investigation in which innocent people will be hurt?
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to The Crucible will help parents and teachers use this film to introduce Puritan society, the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692, and the anti-Communist hysteria in the United States during the period 1947 - 1956.
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The Crucible is an excellent introduction to the decline of Puritan Colonial America, the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the Red Scares of the 1950s, and the craft of Arthur Miller.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to The Crucible.
Miller, in his autobiography, describes the universal appeal of The Crucible:
In Shanghai in 1980, it served as a metaphor for life under Mao and the Cultural Revolution, decades when accusation and enforced guilt ruled China and all but destroyed the last signs of intelligent life. [see To Live.] The writer Nien Cheng, who had spent six and a half years in solitary confinement and whose daughter was murdered by the Red Guards, could not believe that a non-Chinese had written the play. "Some of the interrogations," she said, "were precisely the same ones used on us in the Cultural Revolution." It was chilling to realize what had never occurred to me until she mentioned it -- that the tyranny of teenagers was almost identical in both instances. Timebends, A Life by Arthur Miller, page 348.
The Learning Guide to the film The Crucible contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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