‘The Devil is precise’: Malleus Maleficarum

malleus malificarum

The popularity of Malleus Maleficarum (‘The Witch Hammer’) published in 1486 gave credence to the idea that witchcraft existed.

Take a peek at one of the ‘weighty’ tomes which Hale consulted during the Salem Witch Trials: the Malleus Maleficarum (the link is here MalleusAcrobat) ‘The Witch Hammer’.

Hale: Here is all the invisible world, caught, defined, and calculated.  In these books the Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises.  Here are all your familiar spirits – your incubi and succubi; your witches that go by land, by air, and by sea; your wizards of the night and of the day.






Academic Reading Groups


Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. —-Marcus Aurelius

To help substantiate your opinion of ‘The Crucible’ and what it’s all about, you will be reading some articles published in academic journals.  Having an open, critical mind is important in this task.  You may accept or reject aspects of the arguments you read.  Most importantly, the reading will demand that your thinking goes deeper.

General Introduction Raymond, Randima, James
General Summary Tat Kai, Atul, Jerry Z
Truth Marcus, Ansh, David, Dilshan
Society Kal, William, Vishrut
Tragedy Dhrubo, Jerry J, Tamogna
Allegory Kevin, Brendan, Michael
Feminism Manoj, Lawrence, Cayden
Absolutist Morality Arth, Karl, Steven

Read the article on the weekend and get a set of notes ready to discuss as a group next week.

Rumours and Reputations


ABIGAIL: Uncle, the rumour of witchcraft is all about

When Abigail speaks of the rumours in Salem she could almost be referring to the popularity of  ‘Rumours’, the superb album of Fleetwood Mac classic tunes which includes the rather excellent ‘Second Hand News‘ (a theme song for Abigail perhaps).

This opening act presents us with the key ingredients for our crucible, the alchemy between which leads to the boiling climax of the drama.  If we examine the factors so far:


  • a theocratic, factional society intent on maintaining unity
  • a fear of witchcraft
  • land disputes between neighbours
  • tensions within and between families
  • Puritan rigeousness and sin
  • desire and revenge
  • hysteria and paranoia
  • power and status
  • truth and deception



The grave of Betty Parris

In trying to understand why the children might have behaved the way they did, it is important to remember the severe restrictions placed on their behaviour and leisure time.  These girls had been caught doing something they understand is a sin and most reprehensible by Puritan standards.  When people knowingly break the rules and get caught then they can behave in all manner of ways: lie; shift blame; justify actions; deflect attention; panic; become defiant; become fearful; exhibit guilt; coerce others to corroborate a story; want to tell the truth.  Consider the ways in which these behaviours are reflected in the actions of the characters in the play.


Decide to what extent you agree with the following statements about the drama of Act 1:

  1.  The most sympathetic character in this act is Tituba.
  2.  The least sympathetic character is Hale.
  3. The most hypocritical character is Proctor.
  4. The most rational and moral character is Proctor.
  5. This act is all tension, no humour.