Hunter ETA Study Day
Belonging – The Crucible
‘But if the veins of Saints be dead’
Writing about ‘The Crucible’
related texts effectively.
Stewart McGowan, 2013
This lecture is available for use by teachers as long as original copyright is acknowledged.
Lecture Overview
• Look at ‘The Crucible and a
related text
• Explore the dynamic
connections between them
• Focus on what is revealed
about the ways the texts
make meaning
• Relate both texts to a
complex understanding of
‘Belonging’ – see next slide
• Demonstrate how your writing
about a text can develop,
building on first ideas through
to an academic response.
The Problem…
In The Crucible Hathorne and Danforth combine to
stop others from belonging to the society of Salem. In
Act 3, they bully Mary Warren, forcing her to tell the
court that ‘I thought I saw spirits’ but when Abigail
begins to ‘freeze’ and see the ‘shadow’ of the black
bird Mary Warren is forced to choose whether she will
belong to the society of Salem or to the girls and their
hysterical ways.
This is just like in The Lion King, where Simba must
choose between life with Timon and Pumbaa or…
The Problem…
• Students need a more complex
understanding of belonging.
• You have to be able to choose
between and talk about ‘big ideas’
• Looking at a pair of texts together can
focus your thinking and drive towards
the big ideas
AREA OF STUDY: Belonging
This Area of Study requires students to explore the ways in
which the concept of belonging is represented in and through
texts.
Perceptions and ideas of belonging, or of not belonging, vary.
These perceptions are shaped within personal, cultural,
historical and social contexts. A sense of belonging can
emerge from the connections made with people, places,
groups, communities and the larger world. Within this Area of
Study, students may consider aspects of belonging in terms of
experiences and notions of identity, relationships, acceptance
and understanding.
Texts explore many aspects of belonging, including the
potential of the individual to enrich or challenge a community
or group. They may reflect the way attitudes to belonging are
modified over time. Texts may also represent choices not to
belong, or barriers which prevent belonging.
Miller, Arthur, The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts, Penguin
Modern Classics, 2000, ISBN: 9780141182551
Background: Marsden
• http://www.adb.onl
ine.anu.edu.au/bio
gs/A020176b.htm
• Wikipedia article
includes a
description of
Marsden overseeing
the flogging of
convicts
MARSDEN, SAMUEL (1765-1838), chaplain, missionary and farmer, was born on 24
June 1765 at Farsley, Yorkshire, England, the son of Thomas Marsden, a blacksmith…
…
The advent of the more religiously inclined Governor John Hunter in 1795 recognized the
chaplain's efforts to reclaim the convicts' souls or at least to achieve an outward
observance of moral and religious injunctions; but this effect was counterbalanced by
Marsden's appointment as a magistrate and superintendent of government affairs at
Parramatta. Clerical justices were common in England at the time but his magisterial
posts kept him occupied with heavy temporal duties, and they also further estranged him
as a clergyman from the convicts to whom he dispensed justice. No aspects of
Marsden's activities did more harm to his pastoral work or to his historical character in
Australia than his reputation for extreme severity as a magistrate. This was firmly set by
September 1800 when, in the course of an inquiry into a suspected Irish uprising, Judge
Advocate Richard Atkins and Marsden had a suspect flogged mercilessly in the hope of
securing information about hidden weapons. This particular action was scarcely
defensible, but Marsden was not the only magistrate who ordered the infliction of illegal
punishments. His general severity can be attributed to his high-mindedness, his
passionate detestation of sin and his conviction that Parramatta was such a sink of
iniquity that morality could be preserved only by the most rigorous disciplinary measures.
For all that, the flogging parson, like the hanging judge, is commonly regarded as an
unattractive character.
Background: Marsden
.
The very first blows made the blood
spout out from Fitzgerald's shoulders;
and I felt so disgusted and horrified,
that I turned my face away from the
cruel sight. ...
I have witnessed many horrible scenes;
but this was the most appalling sight
I had ever seen. The day was windy,
and I protest. that although I was at
least fifteen yards to leeward, from
the sufferers, the blood, skin, and flesh
blew in my face as the executioners
shook it off from their cats. Fitzgerald
received his whole three hundred
lashes.
The Vesper-song of
the Reverend
Samuel Marsden
Kenneth Slessor
First Responses
VESPER-SONG OF
THE REVEREND SAMUEL MARSDEN
My cure of souls, my cage of brutes,
Go lick and learn at these my boots!
When tainted highways tear a hole,
I bid my cobbler welt the sole.
0, ye that wear the boots of Hell,
Shall I not welt a soul as well?
0, souls that leak with holes of sin,
Shall I not let God's leather in,
or hit with sacramental knout
Your twice-convicted vileness out?
Lord, I have sung with ceaseless lips
A tinker's litany of whips,
Have graved another Testament
On backs bowed down and bodies bent.
My stripes of jewelled blood repeat
A scarlet Grace for holy meat.
Not mine, the Hand that writes the weal
On this, my vellum of puffed veal,
Not mine, the glory that endures,
But Yours, dear God, entirely Yours.
Are there not Saints in holier skies
Who have been scourged to
Paradise?
0, Lord, when I have come to that,
Grant there may be a Heavenly Cat
With twice as many tails as hereAnd make me, God, Your Overseer.
But if the veins of Saints be dead,
Grant me a whip in Hell instead,
Where blood is not so hard to fetch.
But I, Lord, am Your humble wretch.
- Kenneth Slessor
Connections - Content
• Restrictive society the subject of both works
• Composers of both works reflect on previous
historical times in an attempt to make sense
of their own context– 1930’s Australia and
1950’s USA
• Torture and excessive punishment –the
inflexibility of Danforth and Marsden
Connections - Irony
• The Crucible: the Puritans who had fled
England to establish a society free from
religious persecution end up as their own
tormentors
• Vesper-Song: the tormentor of the convicts
is the man who is responsible for their
spiritual well-being
Connections -Themes
• Intolerance. In both works, moral laws and state
laws are intertwined. Both composers describe a
society that is rigid and inflexible.
• Both composers are arguing that societies without
flexibility and understanding create barriers to a
sense of individual belonging
• John Proctor’s final choice is a way that Miller
affirms this view of belonging.
Connections -Themes
• Reputation – Danforth and Marsden both believe
themselves to be doing God’s work
• Hysteria –
• Empowerment –
• Individual identity –
Looking Deeper - Character
• Slessor: The bullying preacher is
the persona – a character ‘type’.
• Miller: Characterisation is central
to the way the play creates
meaning.
The Crucible
– Character
Interactions
Source: Krystal Bevin
Looking Deeper - Language
• Slessor: pious language vs the
language of punishment
• Miller: dramatic technique – use of
cacophony.
• Both: deliberately archaic
language
VESPER-SONG OF
THE REVEREND SAMUEL MARSDEN
My cure of souls, my cage of brutes,
Go lick and learn at these my boots!
When tainted highways tear a hole,
I bid my cobbler welt the sole.
0, ye that wear the boots of Hell,
Shall I not welt a soul as well?
0, souls that leak with holes of sin,
Shall I not let God's leather in,
or hit with sacramental knout
Your twice-convicted vileness out?
Lord, I have sung with ceaseless lips
A tinker's litany of whips,
Have graved another Testament
On backs bowed down and bodies bent.
My stripes of jewelled blood repeat
A scarlet Grace for holy meat.
Not mine, the Hand that writes the weal
On this, my vellum of puffed veal,
Not mine, the glory that endures,
But Yours, dear God, entirely Yours.
Are there not Saints in holier skies
Who have been scourged to
Paradise?
0, Lord, when I have come to that,
Grant there may be a Heavenly Cat
With twice as many tails as hereAnd make me, God, Your Overseer.
But if the veins of Saints be dead,
Grant me a whip in Hell instead,
Where blood is not so hard to fetch.
But I, Lord, am Your humble wretch.
VESPER-SONG OF
THE REVEREND SAMUEL MARSDEN
My cure of souls, my cage of brutes,
Go lick and learn at these my boots!
When tainted highways tear a hole,
I bid my cobbler welt the sole.
0, ye that wear the boots of Hell,
Shall I not welt a soul as well?
0, souls that leak with holes of sin,
Shall I not let God's leather in,
or hit with sacramental knout
Your twice-convicted vileness out?
Lord, I have sung with ceaseless lips
A tinker's litany of whips,
Have graved another Testament
On backs bowed down and bodies bent.
My stripes of jewelled blood repeat
A scarlet Grace for holy meat.
Not mine, the Hand that writes the weal
On this, my vellum of puffed veal,
Not mine, the glory that endures,
But Yours, dear God, entirely Yours.
Are there not Saints in holier skies
Who have been scourged to
Paradise?
0, Lord, when I have come to that,
Grant there may be a Heavenly Cat
With twice as many tails as hereAnd make me, God, Your Overseer.
But if the veins of Saints be dead,
Grant me a whip in Hell instead,
Where blood is not so hard to fetch.
But I, Lord, am Your humble wretch.
Language –vocabulary
Cure – pun: curates in the church have charge over a cure
 sole: another pun human soul/ sole of a shoe
God’s leather i.e. A whip
Sacrament: a holy service
 knout: another sort of whip
 twice-convicted: i.e. A convict who has again broken the law
 tinker’s litany: tinkers wares would clatter and rattle as they
approached: a litany is a religious chant or song
 graved: another pun: engraved/ sent to his grave
 testament: Old and New... But note what the Bible says about
anyone who writes ‘another testament’
Language –vocabulary
 stripes of jewelled blood: the marks of the whip – but note the
metaphor! Like jewels! (Milton + false paradise?)
Grace: ‘state of Grace’ a state of spiritual contentment
 weal: wound left by a whip
 vellum: soft, thin leather, originally used for books (note the
extended metaphor
 glory is ironic: Gloria in excelsis deo Glory to God! Marsden
hypocritically claims that he does all this for god
 scourged: cleansed of sin by whipping. Suggests sadomasochism
 cat: cat-o’ nine tails – a whip (but the multiple tails...)
 overseer: responsible for supervising (and punishing) convicts
 ‘grant me a whip in Hell instead’: if you don’t need someone to
swing a whip in heaven....
Looking Deeper - Language
• The Crucible – Act 1 to Act 2.
Looking Deeper - Dialogue
• Slessor – a dramatic monologue
• Miller – dynamic use of dialogue. Includes
non-reciprocal dialogue (Act 2)
Looking Deeper - Language
HALE: Pray you, someone take these.
PARRIS (delighted): Mr Hale! Oh! It’s
good to see you again. (Taking some
books) My, they’re heavy!
HALE (setting down his books): They must
be; they are weighted with authority.
A critical theme in The Crucible is the role that hysteria
can play in tearing apart a community. Miller contrasts
cacophony and silence throughout the play to
heighten the impact that outbreaks of hysteria have
on the audience. At the end of Act 3, for example,
Hale loudly declares that he ‘denounces these
proceedings’ while Danforth calls out his name ‘in a
fury’. Ironically it is the men of religion who are
responsible for this crescendo – which is followed by
the darkness and silence of the opening of Act 4.
Danforth’s rigid and inflexible views are critiqued by his
contribution to the cacophony. Miller is making the
point that those who set a higher importance on
compliance to a set of norms than individual identity
create barriers to belonging that we as individuals
may not be able to overcome.
Slessor similarly explores barriers to belonging. He uses
the medium of poetry to launch a vicious satirical
critique of Samuel Marsden and the values and
attitudes he represents. He has his persona speak of
how his ‘...stripes of jewelled blood repeat/ A scarlet
Grace for holy meat.’ It is a startling image that
combines the religious idea of ‘Grace’ and the
comparison of pieces of ‘meat’ flying from the backs
of whipped convicts as ‘jewels.’ Slessor challenges the
historical view of Marsden as a tough man for tough
times, showing us instead a hypocritical sadist, one
whose twisted notion of identity over-rides his need to
belong.
Good luck!
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Belonging Crucible Marsden lec 2013