Socratic Seminar #2: The Crucible

On Monday, we will conduct our second Socratic Seminar! Since you’ve done this before, this time should feel a bit more comfortable.

You may use all of the analysis questions you have answered for each act, but you must also answer two of the essential questions below (your choice).

Everyone must answer #10: Who has the right to determine morality? Is morality something entirely socially constructed?

Choose two from the list below to construct a response to — ensure your response points to direct text evidence!

  1. How do various characters manipulate language to achieve their purposes? What are these purposes? Think of rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, logos), but be specific about these appeals. For example, instead of stating, “The character uses ethos to…” write something more specific: “Edwards appeals to his audience’s desire for salvation to…” (This is a much more specific phrasing of “pathos.”)
  2. How do the events in the story connect to Miller’s larger criticism of and allegory on McCarthyism? Point to evidence from the text to support your view.
  3. How do gender, race, socioeconomic status and title factor into the actions and events of the play?
  4. A crucible is defined as “a vessel or melting pot” or “a test of the most decisive kind.” How are these definitions appropriate to this story and its events?
  5. Many characters rely on or are victim to logical fallacies (errors in logic). Examine some of the logical fallacies present. What do they assume? What could Miller’s purpose be in incorporating these errors in logic in his characters? Think about the possible purposes within the text and within Miller’s society.
  6. In an article from Psychology Today, Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., describes the psychological concept of confirmation bias: “When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices. Thus, we may become prisoners of our assumptions.” Review our readings of The Crucible. How does the concept of confirmation bias surface in this text? How does it motivate characters and shape their worldviews?
  7. What are the benefits and drawbacks of pride? What different types of pride are there?
  8. How does one’s reputation influence one’s actions and decision-making?
  9. How does groupthink and scapegoating still pervade our society? Point to examples in the text, and then connect these events to modern day examples or other examples in history.
  10. Who has the right to determine morality? Is morality something entirely socially constructed?

Like last time, your responses must be completed BEFORE CLASS in order to participate in the Socratic Seminar. Failure to do so will result in a grade penalty.

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