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The Crucible - How does Miller effectively create a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act two?

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Introduction

The Crucible Miller effectively creates a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act two. Act two follows directly on from a very highly charged and climatic note. At the end of act one Abigail and the girls accuse many people in Salem of being witches and a state of hysteria is reached. It is therefore a surprise that act two is not a court scene or trial, merely a domestic scene between John and Elizabeth Proctor. This variation is a good thing I believe as it helps to keep the reader interested and keeps the play from becoming monogamous. This is a very important scene. Miller I believe created this scene and the love interest between Abigail and John Proctor to make the ending of the play far more dramatic. If a significant rift is created between John and Elizabeth, then surely the ending will become more impressive, because as soon as they have conquered their problems and regained trust in each other following John's fight to free Elizabeth, John is hanged. This scene is also important to help us understand Elizabeth's dilemma in act three when Danforth asks her whether John had an affair with Abigail. John is unable to tell her what to say so Elizabeth has to decide for herself whether or not to tell the truth, she is unaware that John has confessed to the affair so denies it happened so as not to incriminate him. ...read more.

Middle

John returns home to work and finds his supper ready, cooked for him by his wife who has just finished singing their children to sleep. However this is all very misleading, the conflict between the proctors is highlighted at the very start of act two with the use of monosyllabic sentences from Elizabeth in reply to Johns attempts at conversation. John, full of good intentions, begins to tell Elizabeth about the farm and tries to engage in conversation with her, however she meekly replies to his questions with short, abrupt sentences such as "That's well", "Aye, it would" and "Aye, it is". By manipulating the sentence structure Miller is able to show Elizabeth's reluctance to speak to her husband, and highlight the distance and awkwardness present between them. After complimenting Elizabeth on the meal John, talks about the farm and says with a grin "I mean to please you Elizabeth." And she answers, "I know it John." However, before she answers, she pauses, and "finds it hard to say." This means that she might not think he honestly wants to please her, or make their marriage work. Since this is quite a dramatic moment, I think that on stage at this moment the lighting should focus on Elizabeth, and if present the orchestra should be silent to emphasize her hesitation. It becomes very clear in this scene that John is desperately trying to regain Elizabeth's trust. ...read more.

Conclusion

John and Elizabeth realise that they must work together to eradicate any suspicions or accusations of them being witches, this causes great tension because it is very hard for them to join forces and act as though nothing between them had happened. Following a huge argument they must help each other and keep up appearances. This is a very subtle and clever way of creating tension. Throughout Act two in the crucible Miller creates a sense of conflict and tension between the Proctors using a number of different methods. Doing this I believe is a brilliant way of keeping the audience interested and making the ending of the book more dramatic. Not only however does this in particular scene help to ensure that the audience wish to watch on, but it also ensures that they understand key events in the play, such as Elizabeth's denial of Johns affair. In act two the audience discover that Elizabeth does know about Johns affair so therefore can work out the later on in the play Elizabeth says that John did not have an affair to protect him, not because she simply did not know. I think that were it not for this scene then the whole of the story would be a lot more complicated and harder to understand. So in conclusion although the tension and sense of conflict that Miller creates between the Proctors make Act two an interesting scene, it also affects the rest of the play and the audiences understanding of events to come as a whole. ...read more.

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