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Lesson Plan

An Exploration of The Crucible through Seventeenth-Century Portraits

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An Exploration of The Crucible through Seventeenth-Century Portraits

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Kathy Kottaras

Pasadena, California


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Act 1 is always the most difficult for the students to understand, as 13 out of the 21 characters are introduced within this section alone.  After reading act 1 of The Crucible, students create Trading Cards to describe and analyze an assigned character.  Then, they explore portraits of Puritans online to assist them in creating a portrait of the character and present a rationale to explain their work of art.  A “Portrait Gallery” is set up around the classroom, so the students are able to refer to portraits during later acts and better understand the characters' motives and relationships.

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  • Character Portrait Assignment and Rubric: Students use this assignment guideline and rubric to create a portrait of a Puritan.  The rubric can also be used for grading purposes.

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As The Crucible is a play, it is easy to incorporate the dramatic aspect of the arts by including lessons on the social purpose of a play and more practical elements, such as blocking and performing. However, incorporating the visual arts into a unit on The Crucible is challenging, as the Puritans themselves forbade, as Miller writes, "anything resembling a theater or ‘vain enjoyment.'"  This lesson allows the teacher to incorporate a creative activity, in that students create drawings, paintings, or collages of the characters.

Still, Osburg highlights a serious problem that can occur during such imaginative assignments, and one that teachers must keep in mind when instructing this lesson:  students could easily "miss the point of the work or confound the author's intent" (56).  It is the teacher's job, as Osburg argues, to "hold them responsible for actual knowledge of the text and the time period."  Indeed, students must demonstrate creativity and imagination; however, if they do not display close-readings of the text and original paintings, the project will be for naught.

Further Reading

Osburg, Barbara.  "A Failure of the Imagination." English Journal. (May 2003.)  57-59.  Print.

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