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A Crucible analysis in terms of language and structure.

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In times of moral and social chaos between any civilised or uncivilised society, when the threat of any opposing force or alliance turns citizens and parliament alike into accusative fools; when 'the voice' itself is riddled with paranoia and irrational thinking, (most likely by the simple arrival of something unknown or new,) other elements of society come forth to offer through their art, an alternative point of view whether it be subtle or public; Arthur Miller a leading American playwright of several decades with such acclaimed works as Death of a Salesman and The Man Who Had All the Luck to his name. Although Miller's dramas took a familial setting, he earned a reputation for dealing with the contemporary political and moral issues of the time. One dramatic device used in a piece studied by myself and piers was an allegory: the use of characters or events to represent ideas or principals in a play, story or picture. At the height of the McCarthy era, when indeed social order and security were replaced by paranoia and an element of superstition, Miller's allegoric play The Crucible conveyed the insanities and fears of the future by showing on stage a similar occurrence in the past. By playing to the audiences of 1950's America, Miller brought to light the resolution of 1700's Salem, how they coincide, and how if the "witch hunt" in the present day continued one of the biggest public blunders of the past which would repeat itself. I use the term "witch hunt" because of the nature of accusations and their ability to root out the weeds of society fifty years ago- the communists.* Senator Joe McCarthy takes his place in history as the main figure leading the anti-communist movement. As the threat of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) loomed over the west, and the iron curtain acted not only as a barrier of communications between the two parts, but as point of alienation; east meets west, communists meet democrats, any ...read more.


Miller creates a fantastic atmosphere and a correct dramatically structured exposition not only for the audience but also for the readers of the script. It seems his simplistic method of explaining a large majority of the characters and above all the history involving The Crucible shows his need to covey to the directors, actors, set designers and so on the importance of the message that must shine through the play of seventeenth century Salem. We find nearly everything discussed in the introduction of this essay in the foreword of the script! All character's secret agendas, past and hidden personalities and abilities are written in a paragraph before their entrance. However, this may seem patronising in terms of the author writing what is usually left up to the audience to discover out as the play and characters develop, but it also allows one to understand the ethos behind the scene and characters; we can determine how to play the parts and understand the dramatic structure of the scene if we understand a little of the/their background. The first scene that I have studied is an orthodox complication as it truly takes the play onto the next stage of development: it is in this scene that we are introduced to the weaknesses and hidden strengths of the primary characters. The play moves forwards from what is learnt about Abigail and Proctor in these four pages. It is also the point where we learn this is not essentially a play about what happens to people through political reasoning, but the journeys of all the characters through themselves; the political element and Miller's use of an allegorical device to give the American audience an alternative and relative view of current issues is but an allegory in itself as the play is really an account of his trials and tribulations. Miller's account, Miller's representation of the characters, the very root and ethos of the entire play is what Miller learned about himself! ...read more.


Instead they leave apologetically and sheepishly, I quote- '[Mercy sidles out.]' Now that the stage is rid of the bulk, only the strong figure of Proctor, a slightly hidden Abigail and mute Betty remain. The scope is quiet, the audience surges with anxiety, as we are now fully aware of the extent of Abigail's character and her master schemes for both characters on stage. The stage directions quote- '[Abigail has stood as though on tiptoe, absorbing his presence, wide-eyed. He glances at Betty on the bed.]' The scene is perfectly set, almost waiting for Abigail to pounce. The remainder of the scene has only dramatic effect in the two character's direct speech and actions. It is the dramatic effect of the language in the dialogue that develops the characters for the benefit of the audience as history repeats- "You're surely sportin' with me." The flirtatious attempts of Abigail do nothing but reveal the nature of their relationship. Proctor's character is used in the first act and indeed second as a pawn, a strong male presence that conjures up history, friction and feelings between a variety of characters. In this quote, Proctor's reply demonstrates their current familiarity, as he obviously feels his would be rude answer appropriate in her case, which suggests history and the blunt coldness of his words suggests a tainted one- "You know me better," This is used to great dramatic effect as this quote is an example of what classes this scene a 'complication.' The revelations between the two characters and the audience displays I theorize that in this epitome, a play like The Crucible has numerous complications, which take the severity of the actual complication (the witch hunts,) to a higher level. For example the threat of being accused by one villager is but trivial when the accusation of attempted murder through witchcraft of which Elizabeth and Proctor are fully aware leads to trial, is brought to their knowledge. This accusation of attempted murder is one complication that mounts to a highly climatic and tragic demise. ...read more.

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