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The Crucible

This material has been written by Adam Johnston, Hunter River High School

Understanding the Concept
Food for Thought
Personal Reflection
Why keep a Journal?
Building an understanding of Context - Belonging
Building an understanding of Context – The Crucible
Considering The Crucible - Extracts
Considering The Crucible – Seven Slips of Paper
Considering The Crucible - Interviews
Selecting Additional Texts
Example detailed analysis of a visual text
Possible Assessment Task
The demands of the Higher School Certificate

This Area of Study holds particular relevance to you at this point of your personal experience. As you undertake your final year of high school you will be confronted with notions of belonging that will alter not only as the year progresses but also as you enter the next phase of your life.

Regardless of whether you are studying The Crucible as an Advanced or Standard text the core concept remains the same. Therefore the first action you must undertake is to develop your own understanding of the term belonging.

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Understanding the Concept

It is vital that you are able to construct and define your own understanding of the term belonging. Some students may choose to turn to the dictionary, some may choose to research quotes for increased depth of understanding. Regardless of where you turn for inspiration some common themes will emerge.

To succeed in this Area of Study you must become aware of how:

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Food for Thought

Read the following quotes and take the time to contemplate each message individually.

These quotes were located at <http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/belong/ (external website)>

Perhaps one of these matches your understanding of belonging? Perhaps they have challenged or enhanced your perceptions of the notion? Look for alternative quotes from a range of sources and pick the three that in your opinion best espouse the notion of belonging.

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Personal Reflection

In your study journal record your answers to the following questions.

  1. How important is it to have a sense of belonging?
  2. What does belonging to a group mean for you personally?
  3. Can it only ever be – “You’re with us or you’re against us”?
  4. Do belonging and exclusion exist symbiotically?
  5. What is the reward or cost of belonging?

Having completed these questions it is time to consider broader reasons for belonging and not belonging to any given group. Consider how the following factors can impact on one’s sense of belonging or not belonging.

Desire for acceptance
Peer group

Write a definitive statement regarding belonging that you can use as a thesis to frame your responses throughout the Area of Study.

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Why keep a Journal?

Some students are studying subjects for the HSC that require the maintenance of a learning journal. If you are studying one of them that means you should appreciate how important they are for refining your understanding and recording your progress so that you may make informed judgements as your study progresses. It is for this reason that I strongly suggest you keep a learning journal.

If you treat your journal with respect and make the necessary effort you will find that not only will it act as a record of your learning but also as a tool that will enhance your personal reflection regarding the texts studied as part of the Area of Study. You should utilise your journal to trial run potential supporting texts. For each potential text you encounter take the time to fill in the following.


Target Audience:

Composer’s intended purpose:

Text synopsis:

Representations of ‘Belonging’:

Technique 1:

Technique 2:

Technique 3:

Links to The Crucible:

Links to additional texts of own choosing:

Used correctly this table acts as a scaffold for study notes and essay planning as it directs you to produce a clear analysis of each text.

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Building an understanding of Context – Belonging

Visit www.belonging.org (external website) supported by the Centenary of Federation. This is an online exhibition that seeks to represent the range of experiences that people have had of belonging in the last century. The website divides the exhibition into People and Place allowing for effective dissemination of the site content.

There is access to audio files, quotes and photos under the following categories:

Explore the website to familiarise yourself with the content and identify areas of personal interest.

Using your learning journal record your personal responses under the categories mentioned above.

Remember that the website itself or any of the entries within the exhibition could be considered for use as additional texts.

Once you have completed these tasks it is valuable to discover what is deemed necessary to know so that an individual may belong as an Australian citizen. What does it mean to be Australian? Go to http://www.citizenship.gov.au/learn/cit_test/test_resource_book/ (external website) and analyse the Citizenship booklet and the Online Citizenship Test using the questions below.

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Building an understanding of Context – The Crucible

As a means of quickly developing an understanding of the context that surrounds your core text The Crucible visit the following website:

  1. National Geographic: Witchcraft Hysteria: Salem
    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/salem/ (external website)

    This web quest will provide you with a simulated personal experience of the Salem witch hunts.

    Once you have completed the web quest record in your journal how it felt to belong/not belong to particular groups of individuals.

Considering The Crucible – Extracts

To accompany what you learn in class you need to be recording your personal responses to the text in your journal. By doing this you will identify not only your opinion and thesis but also techniques and quotes that resonate with you and your understanding of belonging.

Below are five extracts from the text, each of which presents a particular interpretation of belonging. For each extract record your initial response in your journal. Consider composer intentions, positioning of audience and relevant techniques.

Extract 1

“The Salem tragedy, which is about to begin in these pages, developed from a paradox. It is a paradox in whose grip we still live, and there is no prospect that we will discover its resolution. Simply, it was this: for good purposes, even high purposes, the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies. It was forged for a necessary purpose and accomplished that purpose. But all organisation must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition, just as two objects cannot occupy the same space.” (Arthur Miller The Crucible, p. 16)

Extract 2

Parris: (conversation with John Proctor) There is a party in this church. I am not blind; there is a faction and a party.
Proctor: Against you?
Putnam: Against him and all authority!
Proctor: Why, then I must find it and join it. (p. 35 Act 1)

Extract 3

Elizabeth: (to Proctor) … There is a promise made in every bed – (p. 60 Act 2)

Extract 4

Proctor: (to those who come to arrest Elizabeth and Hale) … now the crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! (p. 72 Act 2)

Extract 5

Danforth: (to Francis when he has 91 people on a list defending Rebecca’s good name arrested) … But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. (p. 85 Act 3)
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Considering The Crucible – Seven Slips of Paper

This is a simple activity that you can use when finalising your study notes for the Area of Study or writing an extended response. It is a really simple and effective idea for rationalising your thinking and organizing your points into a logical order.


  1. Take seven thin slips of paper.
  2. With a topic question (for instance, ‘Sometimes it is better not to belong’) in mind write one quote/technique/context point/composer intention per slip.
  3. Sort the slips into a logical and sequential order.
  4. Using the seven slips as a scaffold write an extended response based on the topic.

If you have filled in the analysis tool that we discussed in the ‘Why keep a Journal?’ section you will notice that each time you utilise that tool you are creating easily accessible slips of information that you can use for this exercise.

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Considering The Crucible – Interviews

This is a creative exercise that will require you to adopt the persona of various characters from the text. If you are feeling particularly adventurous it would be highly recommended to also adopt the persona of the composer.

Because belonging or not belonging is a driving force within in The Crucible we are able to explore the concept through a variety of viewpoints.

Assume the persona of the following individuals and write separate responses for each of the following questions.

CHARACTER BASED QUESTIONS – Complete for Abigail, Proctor, Elizabeth, Parris and Danforth.

  1. What is your experience of belonging?
  2. What are the benefits of belonging?
  3. What do you feel are the costs associated with belonging/not belonging?
  4. Which event in the text best demonstrates the benefit or problem with belonging?

Remember to try and use quotes from the text when forming your responses. Stay true to each character while also expressing your opinion.

COMPOSER BASED QUESTIONS – Complete on behalf of Arthur Miller

  1. What did you hope to highlight about the notion of belonging?
  2. Justify why you chose to demonstrate how a society can provide security for some but alienate others.
  3. Evaluate which scene best represented your personal opinion regarding belonging.

Remember to discuss the deliberate selection and use of techniques as well as the desire to communicate the composer’s intentions to the audience.

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Selecting Additional Texts

When selecting additional texts for the Area of Study you MUST keep two things in mind:

  1. Additional texts should be varied
  2. Additional texts should further your understanding of the topic.

You need to find texts that are presented in different formats (film, prose, media, internet, image, lyrics) and represent belonging in a sophisticated manner that you can discuss in your responses.

By utilising the analysis tool that we discussed in the ‘Why keep a Journal?’ section you will be able to effectively determine which texts will be best suited to your argument.


Use the following table to brainstorm some potential texts. Here are a few to start you off.

Prose Film Poetry/Music Media/Internet Image
Wide Sargasso Sea Life as a House Father and Son Cronulla Riots news article Frank Hurley's photography
The Wave Schindler’s List Heaven Olympic profiles Propaganda Posters
      www.belonging.org (external website)  
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Example of a detailed analysis of a visual text

Examine the image located at <http://www.anat.org.au/inml04/Kye/images/status.jpg (external website)> and read the following.

Text: Nothing – Institutionalisation, Social Status 2004
Composer: Kye McGuire
Source: http://www.anat.org.au/inml04/Kye/images/status.jpg (external website)

This artwork deals with the notion of modern society. This text suggests that to belong one must be always looking forward, onward and upward. This promotes contemplation regarding the cost of not belonging.

Mood: Offer of information - there are no direct gazes from the subjects.

Subjective: Image positions the responder to have sympathy for the homeless person despite desire to belong to the group above the line.

P.O.V.: The power is occupied by the composer/viewer as indicated by the oblique angle. This positions the reader to adopt a detached and contemplative point of view.

Social Distance: The use of a long shot equates to a far social distance which removes the viewer from the immediacy of the situation.

Colour: The use of red as an accent colour against the black and white tones serves to clearly divide the haves and the have-nots while also framing the focal point of the image. Red highlights the urgency of the figure’s plight and in turn promotes our expectations of a better society.

Lighting: The focal point of the body on the bench is better lit than the remainder of the image highlighting the plight of those who don’t belong. Clearly possessing a different light source this indicates that this part of the image has been pasted from another source.

Modality: The superimposed text, red strip of colour and pasted focal point indicate clear low modality.

Salience: The homeless figure juxtaposed with the word ‘Wealthy’ is the most salient component.

Vectors: The red line, bench, text and traffic all create a distinct slope. The bulk of components appear to be heading up (positive) while the direction of the homeless person’s head suggests a continuing negative outcome.

Compositional Axes:
The skewed vertical axis separates society as we see it from the hidden truth. The skewed horizontal axis separates wealth and success from failure and demise.

Belonging: Who would you rather be? What benefits do you reap from belonging to the mass above the red line?

Link to The Crucible: Desirability of belonging to the mass as it can be very lonely otherwise.

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Possible Assessment Task - Standard and Advanced Area of Study ‘Belonging’


Modes being assessed: Speaking

Due Date: Term Week

Advanced Outcomes addressed by the task: Standard Outcomes addressed by the task:
1. A student explains and evaluates the effects of different contexts of responders and composers on texts 1. A student demonstrates understanding of how relationships between composer, responder, text and context shape meaning
2. A student explains relationships among texts 2. A student demonstrates understanding of the relationship among texts
4. A student explains and analyses the ways in which language forms and features, and structures of texts shape meaning and influence responses 4. A student describes and analyses the ways that language forms and features, and structures of texts shape meaning and influence responses
6. A student engages with the details of text in order to respond critically and personally 6. A student engages with the details of text in order to respond critically and personally
9. A student evaluates the effectiveness of a range of processes and technologies for various learning purposes, including the investigation and organisation of information and ideas 9. A student assesses the appropriateness of a range or processes and technologies in the investigation and organisation of information and ideas
13. A student reflects on own processes of learning 13. A student reflects upon own processes of learning

Marking Criteria:
You will be assessed on your ability to:

Task outline:
Through the miracle of science, you have been ripped from your own text The Crucible and have now been transplanted into modern times. You have been asked to speak to a group of HSC students about your understanding of Belonging as it relates to you in your text. A keen learner, you have also mastered the mystic tools of the Internet and PowerPoint since your arrival in the present and have gained an understanding of other interpretations of Belonging in a range of texts.

In order to connect with the youth of today, you must not only be yourself but also be accompanied by a visual presentation of your findings. You have but three to five minutes in which to depict the varying representations of Belonging in at least three texts including your own. If you succeed, you will be returned home. However, if you fail, that is a fate too dark to contemplate.

In this task you are to:

Assessment Criteria – Speech and Presentation

Name__________________________ Class________________ Mark_________

A 21-25
  • demonstrates a sophisticated and perceptive understanding of the concept of ‘Belonging’
  • demonstrates extensive wide reading and perception in the selection of texts
  • analyses the selected texts with authority and clarity
  • demonstrates an insightful understanding of the connections between texts
  • expertly adopts and maintains a persona from The Crucible
  • composes a sophisticated visual presentation to accompany the speech
B 16-20
  • demonstrates an effective understanding and confident discussion of the concept of ‘Belonging’
  • demonstrates effective wide reading and some degree of perception in the selection of texts
  • analyses the selected texts with confidence
  • demonstrates a confident and well developed understanding of the connections between texts
  • adopts and maintains a convincing persona from The Crucible
  • composes an effective visual presentation to accompany the speech
C 11-15
  • demonstrates a sound understanding of the concept of ‘Belonging’
  • demonstrates wide reading in the selection of texts
  • analyses most selected texts with some technical understanding
  • demonstrates a satisfactory understanding of the connections between texts
  • adopts and mostly maintains a persona from The Crucible
  • composes a sound visual presentation to accompany the speech
D 6-10
  • demonstrates a generalised understanding of the concept of ‘Belonging’
  • demonstrates an attempt at wide reading, selecting texts of limited scope
  • analyses some selected texts with a little understanding of the techniques used
  • demonstrates some generalized understanding of the connections between texts
  • attempts to adopt and maintain a persona from The Crucible
  • composes a visual presentation to accompany the speech
E 1-5
  • demonstrates an elementary understanding of the concept of ‘Belonging’
  • demonstrates little ability to select appropriate texts
  • demonstrates few skills in the analysis of the selected texts
  • makes few useful connections between the texts
  • does not adopt or maintain a persona from The Crucible
  • attempts to compose a visual representation to accompany the speech







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The demands of the Higher School Certificate

You must familiarise yourself with past papers to understand what is to be expected of you. While 2009 will be the first HSC paper with questions addressing an Area of Study with a belonging focus past papers are still a valuable resource.

Visit http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/ (external website) and analyse past papers to get a feel for the type of questions that have been asked in the past. Even more valuable is the Marker’s Comments feedback that specifically outlines where students excelled but also where they let themselves down. This information is invaluable as it will provide you with a ‘form guide’ to match against your efforts throughout the year.


To create the ‘form guide’, visit http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/ (external website) and look at the Marker’s Comments for Past HSC Paper 1 responses. Collate the information into one of the following columns. Look at the comments over a number of years to identify trends and broaden your understanding of their expectations.

Good responses use/include… Average/Poor responses…


You can add feedback from your assessment tasks to the ‘form guide’ to keep you up to date and focussed on what you need to achieve.


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