The Crucible Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

During the Salem Witch Trials, hysteria ran rampant, and innocent people were punished for crimes they did not commit. When Arthur Miller saw the same things happening during the McCarthy hearings, he wrote 'The Crucible', his celebrated play about paranoia and revenge. This lesson plan will allow your class to understand the play, and its parallels in the 20th century.

Lesson Objectives

With this lesson, your students will learn to:

  • discuss the characters and themes of The Crucible
  • analyze the meaning of reputations in The Crucible and how the play relates to McCarthyism


  • The book The Crucible
  • Pencil/pen
  • Writing paper
  • Slips of paper with parts on them, such as Judge, Jury Member, Prosecutor, Accused, Defense, Witness, Victim, etc.
  • Container to draw the slips from.


45 minutes, plus 55 minutes for the activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Key Terms

  • McCarthyism
  • Salem Witch Trials
  • Arthur Miller
  • Abigail
  • Reverend Parris
  • John Proctor
  • Elizabeth Proctor
  • Dichotomy
  • Reputation

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