• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Act Four provides a shocking conclusion to Arthur Miller's play. How does he manage to draw the audience so firmly behind John Proctor, and what relevance does the play hold for audiences of today?

Extracts from this document...


Act Four provides a shocking conclusion to Arthur Miller's play. How does he manage to draw the audience so firmly behind John Proctor, and what relevance does the play hold for audiences of today? A 'crucible' is a melting pot in which metals are melted down in extreme heat, to burn off any impurities. This, therefore, is an appropriate name for Arthur Miller's 1953 play The Crucible. The play is set in the village of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. At this time, the society of Salem was based around a theocracy - a combination of state and religious power - whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any type of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies. The people were puritanical in every respect; their creed forbade anything that resembled vain enjoyment, such as a theatre or novels. They did not celebrate Christmas, and a holiday from work meant nothing more than time to concentrate even more on prayer. They were also urged to keep their morals through hard work. To the Europeans of the time, the whole province was inhabited by a sect of barbaric fanatics, and the workers had to fight the land all the time to produce their goods for export, although these goods were of ever increasing quality. ...read more.


Where this does not affect his public life, he feels that he needs the support and forgiveness of Elizabeth, and it angers him that his honesty is doubted. Another thing that endears an audience of The Crucible to John Proctor is the sense of innocence surrounding him. We know that he has sinned by having the affair with Abigail. However, he believes that, because he has confessed himself to Elizabeth, and allowed her to dismiss Abigail, that she should automatically forgive him, and stop suspecting him all the time. He believes that Elizabeth has judged him, and that 'her justice would freeze beer'. And this seems to be a typical assumption of a man with the character of John Proctor. However, John Proctor does not see the way the danger that Abigail poses until it is too late. Whereas Elizabeth sees straight away that Abigail is plotting to have her killed so that she may take her place as John's wife, John is unable to comprehend this, and does not see how much danger Abigail Williams poses to the life of his wife, or the way her intentions could affect him. He simply believes, or wants to believe, that the high court will see that the accusations against Elizabeth are totally unfounded, and she will escape conviction. ...read more.


*** In conclusion, The Crucible ends on a very shocking and unexpected note with the death of John Proctor, and the fashion in which John Proctor is sentenced manufactures a situation in which we see John Proctor as a hero and a saint. This prompts an angry response from the audience, and delivers strong morals that still have relevance to society today. John Proctor is an innocent and honest man, who falls victim to the spiralling events of a hysterical, paranoid society, taken to the brink of destruction by the witchcraft trials. We see that John Proctor is only getting involved in the trials because he knows they are false, and to save his innocent wife and friends, and in the end, we see him die because he cannot bear to live with the guilt of lying to save his own, sinful life when so many before him had died in pure innocence. Today, we can understand that perhaps we should not be so easily taken in by the hysteria of events, and attempt to understand what is happening before we make judgments, and to know that the power of belief without understanding is a deadly force, which can ruin people's lives, and also destroy faith in the judiciary system, as it did in 1692 Salem. 20th Century Drama Coursework for GCSE English Grade A/A* ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Miller section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Arthur Miller essays

  1. The crucible: "Proctor is a guilt-ridden individual struggling to find his true self." To ...

    She puts Proctor under pressure and jeopardises the lives' of the people on trial. I think in act three John Proctor has found his "true self", even though he may not know it; he has come out of his "guilt-ridden" shell and is fighting for justice.

  2. Examine miller's presentation of the marriage of John and Elizabeth proctor in the crucible. ...

    Parris also brings up rumours that Abigail's former employer, Elizabeth Proctor, believes that Abby is immoral (corrupt, dishonest). John Proctor enters the room where Betty lies faint. Abigail is still in there and she tries to seduce him but he sternly refuses her.

  1. How does Miller capture and maintain the audience's interest in The Crucible?

    It is first displayed when the girls start accusing people of witchcraft and partnership with the devil at then end of the first act. I think that the way in which miller presents the themes in The Crucible really helps to keeps the audience's attention.

  2. To what extent can John Proctor be described as a tragic hero in Arthur ...

    When word spread, speaking of witchcraft in Salem, that fear, that paranoia emerged ever so imminently and thus began the tragedy. With the people's fear came rumors. Mrs. Putnam asked, "How high did she fly, how high?" (p.12) of Betty clearly exhibiting that rumours of witchcraft were surfacing and spreading.

  1. Create an outright contrast between the two protagonists - Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor. ...

    Out of the two characters Miller has made Elizabeth the more stable character representing a secure mother. On the other hand the play has made Abigail the danger-thriving, young attractive girl. Elizabeth knows she is partly to blame for the affair John had with Abigail, and that if she had

  2. How and why does Arthur Miller encourage audience sympathy for John Proctor

    On the other hand, Proctor challenges and breaks the rules by working on Sundays, and this is offensive to the other villagers, especially the more religious of the community. Proctor also dislikes Reverend Parris and makes his feelings clear; 'I see no light of god in that man.'

  1. Focusing on Act 3, to what extent is 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller an ...

    pressure is huge on her, to come up with the answers quickly but if she takes too long she maybe considered more of a witch and therefore this sets the mood and tone for the scene. It's as if Judge Hathorn's trying to possibly trick into saying that she's a witch rather then finding out the exact truth.

  2. 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller is all about a lie which spirals out of ...

    However Abigail gets around that and gets them arrested. Anyone who upsets Abigail pays for it. Nevertheless, Abigail runs away to Boston with all her uncles' money, in fear of being found out, and that's when everybody realises how spiteful she has been.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work