GCSE AQA English Lit - Conflict Poetry, Mr Pip, The Crucible - THE CRUCIBLE

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Arkasia
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Okay guys, the exams are coming up in a few days, I thought I might post a revision 'guide' for anyone unsure of a few points. This is purely for those doing the literature mentioned in the title.

The Crucible:

Summary: The Crucible is play by Arthur Miller set in the early history of modern America, following the hysteria of a witch court in the context of a small village of puritans. It is critical to notice that Miller has portrayed this as an important parallel to the ongoing events in 1950s America, with the rise of McCarthyism (explained below).

McCarthyism: After the Second World War, many countries were on edge, with destruction, despair and debt causing many countries to spiral downwards. Much like after WW1, fringe parties grew stronger, and with the Communist USSR holding an army of over 3 million men (the Red Army), most of Eastern Europe came under Soviet control. The US became scared of the spread of communism, and one particularly loud politician was Senator McCarthy. Skip forward a few years, and many actors, writers, celebrities and commoners were being hauled in front of courts being accused of communism (on the release of this play Arthur Miller was accused of Communism himself).

Plot + Characters:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible

Themes:

-Freedom
-Religion
-Hysteria
-Fear
-Corruption
-Redemption
-American Dream
-Identity + Names
-Lies


Exam: 1 question 45 minutes.

Sample A* paragraph: How do you respond to the presentation of Abigail?

Firstly, Miller forces the audience to feel a certain sense of understanding in response to his portrayal of Abigail as a human who will do anything in the name of self-preservation. Miller shows her to go to shocking lengths in an effort to protect herself and her name, whilst incriminating others. This is one of the main themes Miller explores, and therefore the audience sees many of the other characters in the play presented as having a similar attitude. This is one of the first responses we have to Abigail's character, as we primarily encounter this survival instinct near the start of Act 1, when Abigail threatens the rest of the girls with 'a pointy reckoning'. This ominous warning on the part of Abigail is an attempt by Miller to make us think, as we are almost instantly turned against Abigail's character, yet Miller suggests throughout the play that we are all faced with the same sense of self-preservation, and Abigail is his portrayal of those dark aspects of human nature.

REMEMBER, A* STUDENTS NEED:

Discourse markers: Words such as 'Alternatively', 'Additionally', 'Further'
Quotations: No quoting can only get you a maximum C grade.
Alternative readings: More interpretations = more marks.
Linking words: Words such as 'suggesting', 'implying'
A range of ideas: Show you can think!
Close analysis: Look at impact of individual words and phrases

ALSO

When analyzing characters, remember to include:

-Relationships
-Dramatic role in plot
-Contrasts with characters
-Themes and ideas
-Personality

Thanks for reading this, and good luck! (I will make separate posts for Mr Pip and Conflict Poetry).


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theslowbaker
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hey, do you have anything to say about the big man himself - john Procter .Because i believe he is highly likely to appear; due to the fact he has not appeared before in the previous years as a named character, either him or Elizabeth are likely.

how is the crucible related to corruption, redemption and the american dream.
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Arkasia
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(Original post by theslowbaker)
hey, do you have anything to say about the big man himself - john Procter .Because i believe he is highly likely to appear; due to the fact he has not appeared before in the previous years as a named character, either him or Elizabeth are likely.

how is the crucible related to corruption, redemption and the american dream.
I will answer the second part first

Corruption: The Crucible is linked to corruption in its many forms. The most obvious is corruption of religion. Salem at that time was a theocracy, with the villagers stating that they were upholding the laws given to them by God. This is clearly false, as shown through various events and characters in the book. Then, there is corruption of law. Danforth comes to Salem claiming he upholds the law, although this is a farce. He shows through his words and actions that he is selfish and proud, and the witch trials are no more than a 'kangaroo court'. Finally, there is corruption of human nature. This flaw is presented by Miller almost solely through characters such as Abigail and Parris, and shows this through the lying, stealing, murderous nature of these characters.

Redemption: A crucible is a container in which metals are purified. This name refers to the story, with the fire being the witch trials, and the purified metals being people like John and Elizabeth. At the start of the play we see John and Elizabeth having little to no positive relationship, but as the story progresses they strengthen as characters, at the end having forgiven each other. Redemption is a mostly Christian ideal, and so by including this theme Miller shows John and Elizabeth to be more Christian than those who outwardly state they are, such as Parris and Cheever.

The American Dream: The American Dream is that anyone can achieve anything through hard work. Also, the United States Constitution declares that everyone has the freedom to practice their own religion, free from persecution. Clearly, the events in Salem show the corruption (!) of this idea, mostly due to the contextual time period, and partially due to the hysteria spreading throughout Salem.

I did a piece of coursework on John and Elizabeth's relationship

Remember with characters:

Relationships (R), Contrasts (C), Personality (P), Themes (T), Story (S)

John:

R- Elizabeth - Starts out destroyed, rebuilds throughout
R- Abigail - Volatile throughout, she loves him, he does not(?) love her.
R- Giles - His only good friend, both are killed by court, honest
R- Parris - A coward and a bad Christian, Parris sees his mistake at end
C- Hale - Believes himself God's man, a coward, agrees with John
C- Danforth - Nietzsche "we should be leading them out of ignorance"
C- Putnam - Selfish, liar, John - Selfless, honest
C- Parris - Proctor = Good Christian, Parris = Bad Christian
P- Violent - Threatens women often, shows that he is flawed
P- Honest - His wife never lies, he told her about the affair
P- Forgiving - Shows a Christian ideal, forgives himself and wife
P- Loving - Loves his wife, sacrifices himself for her
T- Forgiveness - Forgives himself - "he has his peace now"
T- Truth - Contrasts with Abigail, shows him to be good
T- Freedom - "God is dead" - Nietzsche - free from ignorance
T- Identity - "allow me my name"
S- Affair with Abigail - Starts the whole court and shows him flawed
S- Against the court - Shows him to be logical and reveals corruption
S- Relationship with wife - Shows how people should be and improves
S- Martyr - Shocks the audience and adds effect of horror

I hope this helps
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theslowbaker
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Thank you.

how much should you write for the crucible section, in terms of sides.
e.g what range? like 1.5 to 2 sides

also, do you think it is better to write about a range of many things or write a lot about a little.

e.g you might analyse in depth how hot headed and impulsive he is.

Also if proctor comes up how much points should i comment on altogether.

when I am talking about characters do you think my response should center around the themes they show. Then show what they say,how they act, their stage directions, what others say to support my point about them.
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Arkasia
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The section is 45 minutes, and worth 34 marks (30 for answer, 4 for grammar and punctuation), so I would personally recommend 3-4 sides, although you can do 2 if your paragraphs are condensed and to the point.

Generally, I would say speak about a range of things, as the Crucible questions is always on the play as a whole, instead of on a specific passage. It is important to show your understanding of the play by referencing events, and using a few quotes dotted about in your answer. (e.g. How John and Elizabeth's relationship is different at the end compared to how it was at the start).

Proctor should not be any different to any of the other characters in the play, with the recommended number of paragraphs being 6-8 discluding intro and conclusion. This may seem daunting, but if you following the plan I showed further up (Plot, Personality, Contrasts, Relationships, Themes) then 6 paragraphs should be do-able.

Usually the question is 'how does Miller present this character', so yes, by all means talk about the themes represented, as that answers the presentation aspect. But you must also include authorial techniques used as you have said, such as language, stage directions, dialogue etc to answer the 'how' part.

I hope this helped
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BuzzMan
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Which characters are most likely to come up? I've been told Proctors, Danforth and Putnams; is this right?
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Arkasia
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It is highly likely John, Elizabeth, Danforth, Putnam, Hale, Parris or Abigail come up. This is because they are main characters, but it is not definite that you will get an easy question. Last year Giles came up, and he is a relatively minor character, so I would suggest revising everyone, and maybe link each character to others, so that you will have something to say no matter the question.
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myloxyloto
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I am not sure how to appropriately describe the Putnams and Parris. I understand fear/ignorance/reputation may all be incorporated but i am not sure how to describe them effectively. help please
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Arkasia
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Parris: Parris is the church minister of Salem, a greedy, selfish man who cares more for himself than for God. He is a deep hypocrite, as Christianity preaches freedom and equality, whereas the first fact we learn about him is that he has a slave, Tituba. Parris is one of the main reasons Proctor says 'God is dead', as the ideals and beliefs of Christianity had been cast aside, replaced by individual desires. Parris fears a loss of power more than he fears God, and he fears giving his 'enemies' any foothold with which to depose him ("They will not blink it and they shall ruin me with it"). This is shown in Act 4, when Parris begs Proctor to confess to save himself as much as save John. To him, reputation is everything, more so than his own daughter it seems, as he cares more about saving face than Betty's life.

Putnams: With the Putnam's, fear, ignorance and reputation play an almost minimal part. These characters are there to show greed and how hysteria can be used as a weapon. Throughout The Crucible, these characters are described as using events to gain land or wealth from others.
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vicki36
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I've been told that it is likely that the Putnams or Danforth will come up but I don't really know what i could say about Danforth.
Any help would be much appreciated
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Arkasia
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Hi, it is as likely they come up as it is that any other characters come up, so it is definitely worth revising

Danforth:

Personality(P), Story(S), Relationships(R), Contrasts(C), Themes(T)

P-Tyrannical - Rules over everyone in the courtroom
P-Hypocrite - Thinks he follows the law but he doesn't
P-Ambitious - Wants promotion and refuses to let reputation be tarnished
S-Believes the girls to be honest - gullible
S-Head of court proceedings - Corrupt and broken
S-Sentences Proctor to death - Refuses to see truth
R-Parris - Dislikes Parris but occasionally listens to him
R-Abigail - Abigail is the only one who controls Danforth
R-Hale - Hale is the man of God but is ignored
C-Proctor - "We should be leading them out of ignorance" - Nietzsche
C-Hale - Hale realizes truth, Danforth doesn't
T-Religion - Theocratic community, law and religion doesn't mix
T-Freedom - Religious freedom, social freedom...
T-Corruption - The law is being manipulated by Danforth for self-gain

Hope this helped, good luck tomorrow!
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imo345
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(Original post by BenAssirati)
Hi, it is as likely they come up as it is that any other characters come up, so it is definitely worth revising

Danforth:

Personality(P), Story(S), Relationships(R), Contrasts(C), Themes(T)

P-Tyrannical - Rules over everyone in the courtroom
P-Hypocrite - Thinks he follows the law but he doesn't
P-Ambitious - Wants promotion and refuses to let reputation be tarnished
S-Believes the girls to be honest - gullible
S-Head of court proceedings - Corrupt and broken
S-Sentences Proctor to death - Refuses to see truth
R-Parris - Dislikes Parris but occasionally listens to him
R-Abigail - Abigail is the only one who controls Danforth
R-Hale - Hale is the man of God but is ignored
C-Proctor - "We should be leading them out of ignorance" - Nietzsche
C-Hale - Hale realizes truth, Danforth doesn't
T-Religion - Theocratic community, law and religion doesn't mix
T-Freedom - Religious freedom, social freedom...
T-Corruption - The law is being manipulated by Danforth for self-gain

Hope this helped, good luck tomorrow!
Could you possibly give some quotes for Danforth?
How many quotes should you include?
How many points on Danforth should you make?
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myloxyloto
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How long should I spend on section a (as in each question, as there are two). Also thank you so much for your response. One more thing, say if we got a question on the villages response and hysteria, how would you respond and which key characters/quotes would you use
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Arkasia
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For the Crucible question, it is important that you use quotes for every point, as the examiner is looking for knowledge of content as well as analysis, unless the question is on a group such as the Court, in which case you should only do one or two paragraphs on Danforth. Therefore you should use the PEE structure for each paragraph, quoting each time. As for the number of paragraphs, 6-8 is the perfect amount, and although it seems hard to achieve you can actually easily get 6 paragraphs if you plan well

Danforth:

"your old age alone keeps you out of jail for this"-his opinion is law A3
"and 72 condemned to hang by that signature?"-proud, (Identity+name)
"not the slightest reason to believe these children may be deceiving me"
"a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it" A3
"this is a court of law, the law based upon the bible."
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Arkasia
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(Original post by myloxyloto)
How long should I spend on section a (as in each question, as there are two). Also thank you so much for your response. One more thing, say if we got a question on the villages response and hysteria, how would you respond and which key characters/quotes would you use
In English Lit, there are two sections for the first exam, A and B. A is on the plays, such as Inspector Calls, Lord of the Flies, or in this case - The Crucible. Both A and B are worth 34 marks each (30 for answer, 4 for SPaG). Therefore you should spend 45 minutes on each section. 45 minutes on the Crucible question means 5-7 minutes of planning, and the rest writing.

For the Villages response and hysteria, I would mainly focus on different responses, as well as how they are presented. For example, I would focus on how hysteria affects Proctor, Danforth and Parris, as they all have different views, and I would say that this is shown through dramatic Act endings, dialogue (and soliloquy), and stage directions etc. Remember to include a RANGE of responses from a RANGE of characters from a RANGE of events THROUGHOUT the play, as it is critical you show the examiner you know the play by showing you know what happens at the start, middle and end of it
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allymccabe
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do you think anything could come up on the group of girls as a whole? as this is different to just analysing one charachter would i still answer it in the same way/ what points would i need?
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Arkasia
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It is possible the group could come up, as it is possible the Court could come up Here are the people who have come up in the past (therefore unlikely to be up tomorrow):

-Mary
-Giles
-Hale
-Abigail
-Parris

And the ideas that came up:

-"Predeliction for minding each other's business"
-Attitudes towards others
-How is the opening of the play effective
-Ideas about freedom
-Attitudes to the court
-Ending of each act

For the girls, you should focus mainly on Abigail and Mary individually, as well as perhaps saying how they all followed Abigail and they turned against anyone who opposed them to save themselves e.g. Mary.
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theslowbaker
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how do you guys think it went
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MajorRisk
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(Original post by BenAssirati)
Conflict Poetry
Any predictions for the conflict poems to come up and not come up?
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Arkasia
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Eugh it did not go too badly, the question on The Crucible was fine, but that Mr Pip passage was just weird :O?

I will make a separate thread for Conflict poetry, along with predictions
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