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Arthur Miller builds up tension for the audience by skilful use of dialogue, entrances and actions. By discussing one or two examples of each, from Act Two, say how he does this.

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Introduction

Arthur Miller builds up tension for the audience by skilful use of dialogue, entrances and actions. By discussing one or two examples of each, from Act Two, say how he does this. Though 'The Crucible' is set against the background of the Salem witch trials in 1629, it reflects the McCarthy anti-communism trials of 1950s America. The citizens of Salem (Massachusetts) had Puritan beliefs and were very religious. Due to their strong Christian beliefs, there was a great fear that people could form compacts with the devil and they even believed witchcraft and supernatural events really existed. Arthur Miller describes the mass hysteria which hit Salem to establish to the audience the vulnerable, narrow-minded personalities of the characters, by their height of paranoia and level of anxiety. This obvious breakdown in Salem's Puritan social order led to the tragedy that saw nineteen innocent people hung on the accusation of witchcraft. Arthur Miller brings out the absurdity of the incident in the play, which is expressed through the struggles of the main character, John Proctor. Elizabeth Proctor has been 'cold' towards her husband, which has tempted him to have an affair with their servant Abigail Williams. Abigail has fallen for John and wants him for herself. ...read more.

Middle

In addition they would also be wondering what brings Hale to the Proctor's home. The timing of Giles Corey and Francis Nurses' entrance is ironic because they appear with the news of Goody Corey and Rebecca Nurses' arrest, just as Reverend Hale is interrogating John Proctor about his belief in witchcraft. Proctor: "Rebecca's in the jail!" The tension rises dramatically, because Rebecca Nurse one of the pillars of society who is a very faithful Christian is accused of witchcraft. Elizabeth: "They've surely gone wild now, Mr Hale!" We can clearly tell that the characters are genuinely shocked because we are not sure just how many arrests or accusations have been made, however we do know that they are increasing at a horrifying speed. The tension is built here as the sense of hysteria increases. This makes the audience fear what dangers are going to come next and they are literally on the edge of their seats. Tension is built dramatically when Ezekiel Cheever comes with an arrest warrant for Elizabeth. When he comes in it is clear that he is looking for some kind of clue and then he finds the poppet. Cheever: "Why a poppet - (he gingerly turns the poppet over)- a poppet may signify..." Arthur Miller keeps the audience in suspense with Cheever's deliberate, delayed actions. ...read more.

Conclusion

As the scene comes to an end, Arthur Miller once again raises the tension for the last time. John's treatment of Mary Warren when they are alone has the audience on the edge of their seats. Proctor: (moving menacingly toward her) "You will tell the court how that poppet come here and who stuck the needle in." The dialogue is shocking because, although we know John has a bad temper the audience have not seen him so mentally disturbed, and this is clearly out of his character. "(He throws her to the floor, where she sobs, 'I cannot I cannot...)" The fear of John Proctor is brought about by his violent actions. This is also very effective as the audience are uncertain of how far John will go. "(Grasping her by the throat as though he would strangle her)" At this moment in the scene the audience are made to feel that John is capable of anything and the tension is at its peak. Overall, I think that Arthur Miller has built the tension and suspense effectively throughout act two, through the use of the dramatic dialogue, entrances and actions. It is clear that he has done this very skilfully because it creates a mixture of emotions such as tension, excitement, suspense and fear for the audience. Nazifa Musa 11RC 1 The Crucible ...read more.

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