The Crucible - Extract 2

This GCSE English Literature quiz is the second of two extract questions for The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It takes place towards the end of the play, in Act IV, and presents two of the condemned women in the early hours of the morning on the day of their execution. Herrick has been ordered to clear the room to make space for the administrative work required to document the legal details of the proceedings. The women at first appear as bunches of rags, highlighting their pathetic state, the neglectful treatment they have received and their worthlessness in the eyes of their own community.

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

Before beginning to write an answer to an extract question, it is important to read the passage through carefully more than once.

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Doing so will allow you to notice new details and aspects of the passage which you might not have seen the first time. On a first reading, aim to gather a general understanding of the extract, especially in consideration of how it relates to the question you will be answering. When you read the extract a second time, begin to make detailed notes and annotations. These will help you to plan your answer to the question.

Consider the reasons why the specific passage might have been chosen. How does it relate to the rest of the text? Which are the significant characters and themes included? What happens later in the text? Are any events foreshadowed? How does the passage follow earlier events? Perhaps the passage presents a turning point. Consider its ending: why has the extract been brought to a close where it has? What is the significance of the final line?

Pay careful attention to the wording of the question you have chosen to answer. Have you been asked to write about mood and atmosphere? A particular character? A theme? You might be expected to give a personal response to the passage or to a character. Or maybe the question focusses on dialogue, behaviour or feelings. A different answer is required for each of these different types of question. Remember to explain the passage’s immediate context: note the events which precede the extract, commenting upon their relevance. Your answer should refer to the detail of the passage. Ensure that you analyse and discuss the relationship between the passage and the wider themes of the text and structure your writing by grouping related ideas together. Leave enough time to discuss the entire passage. An answer which only discusses one section of the passage is incomplete.

Read the extract below carefully before answering the questions.

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HERRICK: Sarah, wake up! Sarah Good! (He then crosses to the other bench.)

SARAH GOOD (rising in her rags): Oh, Majesty! Comin’, comin’! Tituba, he’s here, His Majesty’s come!

HERRICK: Go to the north cell; this place is wanted now. (He hangs his lantern on the wall. Tituba sits up.)

TITUBA: That don’t look to me like His Majesty; look to me like the marshal.

HERRICK (taking out a flask): Get along with you now, clear this place. (He drinks and Sarah Good comes and peers up into his face.)

SARAH GOOD: Oh, is it you, Marshal! I thought sure you be the devil comin’ for us. Could I have a sip of cider for me goin’-away?

HERRICK (handing her the flask): And where are you off to, Sarah?

TITUBA (as Sarah drinks): We goin’ to Barbados, soon the Devil gits here with the feathers and the wings.

HERRICK: Oh? A happy voyage to you.

SARAH GOOD: A pair of bluebirds wingin’ southerly, the two of us! Oh, it be a grand transformation, Marshal! (She raises the flask to drink again.)

HERRICK (taking the flask from her lips): You’d best give me that or you’ll never rise off the ground. Come along now.

TITUBA: I’ll speak to him for you, if you desires to come along, Marshal.

HERRICK: I’d not refuse it, Tituba; it’s the proper morning to fly into Hell.

TITUBA: Oh, it be no Hell in Barbados. Devil, him be pleasure-man in Barbados, him be singin’ and dancin’ in Barbados. It’s you folks - you riles him up ‘round here; it be too cold ‘ round here for that Old Boy. He freeze his soul in Massachusetts, but in Barbados he just as sweet and -- (A bellowing cow is heard, and Tituba leaps up and calls to the window): Aye, sir! That’s him, Sarah!

SARAH GOOD: I’m here, Majesty! (They hurriedly pick up their rags as Hopkins, a guard, enters.)

HOPKINS: The Deputy Governor’s arrived.

HERRICK (grabbing Tituba): Come along, come along.

TITUBA (resisting him): No, he comin’ for me. I goin’ home!

HERRICK (pulling her to the door): That’s not Satan, just a poor old cow with a hatful of milk. Come along now, out with you!

TITUBA (calling to the window): Take me home, Devil! Take me home!

SARAH GOOD (following the shouting Tituba out): Tell him I’m goin’, Tituba! Now you tell him Sarah Good is goin’ too!

Arthur Miller, The Crucible (The Cresset Press, 1961)
  1. What is the immediate context for this passage?
    Some time has elapsed between the end of Act III and the beginning of Act IV; the time spent waiting in prison is indicated by the state of the imprisoned characters, as well as by the stage directions, which begin: "A cell in Salem jail, that fall"
  2. What immediately follows this passage?
    The men soon receive several visits: Parris brings news that Abigail and Mercy Lewis have stolen money and fled the town and Reverend Hale reveals that he has been asking the accused to lie and confess to save their lives
  3. Sarah Good behaves as if Herrick is Satan. Which of the following does NOT convey her negative view of the marshal?
    Sarah Good makes the point that Herrick might as well be the devil himself. Sharing his cider with the condemned woman is the most humane action Herrick takes during this scene
  4. How might Herrick's attitude to the women best be described?
    Herrick jokes with the women in a way that implies he does not truly believe them to be witches; he carries out his duties, however, with little care for their impending deaths
  5. Which one of the following lines refers both to hanging and to flying, a stereotypical behaviour of witches?
    Herrick's callous comment brings the women's consciousness back to the realities of hanging, in which they will "rise off the ground"
  6. What is ironic about Hopkins's entry?
    Tituba and Sarah have just been speaking as if to the devil before Hopkins, an ordinary man, enters. He, like Herrick, is presented as an actual, tangible source of evil
  7. "It be too cold 'round here for that Old Boy. He freeze his soul in Massachusetts." What does Tituba's comment imply?
    Even Satan would find Massachusetts a cold place. "Cold" is here contrasted with the warmth of Barbados, but is also used metaphorically to represent the cold, harsh attitudes of the people, who are more devilish than the devil
  8. "That's not Satan, just a poor old cow with a hatful of milk." Herrick's comment can be seen as an analogy to which of the following?
    Herrick sees nothing supernatural in the bellowing of the cows, understanding the natural causes. This same rationality has not applied to the many townspeople condemned for witchcraft
  9. Tituba shouts, "I goin' home!" The word "home" has several meanings in this context. Which one of the following is less likely to be one of those meanings?
    Tituba has been referring to the devil taking her home, meaning in this context hell. She has also been fantasising about returning to her old, beloved home in Barbados. In the context of Puritan Massachusetts, the cry of someone nearing death that she is "going home" would traditionally refer to heaven
  10. Which of the following is true of the women's behaviour?
    The women have apparently absorbed the madness of the community which betrayed them

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