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Act 4 of the crucible is dynamic theatre; discuss how miller makes this act dramatic

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Introduction

Act 4 of the crucible is dynamic theatre; discuss how miller makes this act dramatic The Crucible provides us with what can only be described as masterpiece of dramatic writing. Written by Arthur Miller in 1952, the most powerful scenes in "The Crucible" have several common characteristics; very effective use of stage directions, long build-ups of suspense that come crashing down in thundering climaxes, intense displays of emotion and an abundance of dramatic irony. The play, set in 1692, is based upon the outbreak of accusations of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. Miller wrote the play using this 17th-century case (and fictionalising it) to comment on a 20th-century phenomenon - the exposure of suspected communists. In 17th century Salem the inhabitants feared witchcraft as America feared communism in the 1950's; and many similarities can be drawn between the events of the two periods. Both were exaggerated out of all reasonable proportion and each contains communities that display an irrational fear of an ill perceived threat to their stability of life. Indeed, the theme of culpability that runs throughout the play is mirrored constantly in modern society, particularly in politics, where those in office are frequently blamed for incidents that are completely beyond their control. The writing of this play stemmed from Miller's personal interest in the Salem witch trials and at the time, America was in the middle of the McCarthy political "Witch Hunt". ...read more.

Middle

At the very beginning of the scene, we see a representation of the main theme of the story; the helplessness of the villagers against the cruel authority of Danforth, illustrated by the forcible removal of Tituba and Sarah Good from their cell. The power struggle between those in office and the common man draws great empathy from the audience and reinforces the brutality of the entire ordeal. Indeed, the women's response to the guards; "We goin' to Barbados, soon devil gits here..." highlights the villagers' great superstition around Satan, giving the audience insight into how the situation has spiraled out of control, and how their fears fuel the fires of hysteria, allowing the oppression of the villagers to continue unabated. Conversely, a shining example of the theme of resistance is seen in John Proctor. Despite the efforts of his accusers to completely strip him of his dignity, leaving him chained, bedraggled and "filthy", Proctor still retains the courage of his convictions and remains firm in his principles. Even though acquiescing to Danforth's demands would result in his release, Proctor destroys his confession, steadfastly and hysterically refusing to surrender his name to his enraged captor, maintaining that "I have given you my soul; leave me my name!". This defiance towards authority is not encouraged by his wife Elizabeth, but does elicit admiration from several of the villagers, most notably Rebecca, who also refuses to "sell her soul". ...read more.

Conclusion

Equally we see the irony surrounding a power-hungry character who demands to be addressed as "Honour" and "Excellency" as these titles are arguably antonyms when given to such a brutal character as Danforth, and indeed more recently, albeit on a lesser scale, McCarthy. A significant phrase used during the Salem interrogations; "Did you ever see...with the devil?" can be directly linked to the language often used during the McCarthy communist 'witch-hunt' of 1950's USA, as ironically, Russia, and by association communism, was colloquially referred to as the 'devil'. This shows that although many phrases may have been abandoned since the 17th century, the fundamental tenet of this expression still remains today. Throughout the Crucible we see Miller create consistently dynamic theatre by providing us with the classic conventions of effective drama; structured plot, evocative setting and spectacular use of language. Character conflict is also an integral part of the action, as this helps not only to establish the two main protagonists that can be found at the heart of any good story, but also gives the audience an insight into the mind-set of some of the more complex characters. Overall, Miller constructs a successful allegory that allows the audience to experience the suffering of those involved in the witch hunts, and through effective and inescapable comparison, the McCarthy period. Truly, the Crucible is a direct social comment on what transpired during that era, and continues to be relevant today, as the main themes of blame and accusation are still prevalent in modern society. ...read more.

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