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Choose one scene from "The Crucible" that you consider to be particularly dramatic, exciting or tense. Explain you choice and discuss the importance of this scene to the play as a whole. Arthur Miller

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Introduction

Choose one scene from "The Crucible" that you consider to be particularly dramatic, exciting or tense. Explain you choice and discuss the importance of this scene to the play as a whole. Arthur Miller wrote "The Crucible" at a time when America had become obsessed with communism, and although the play is set in Salem during the seventeenth century, many believe it to be a reflection of a modern American society which became hysterical with the fear of Russia and its Communist rule. It feared that there were communists who were trying to introduce their ideas into America as well as destroy the lifestyle to which Americans had become accustomed. To prevent Communists movement within America, laws were passed to restrict the activities of communists, and this campaign was lead by senator Joe McCarthy, hence McCarthyism, the name given to this period of American history when it seemed as though the American people had been overwhelmed with hysteria. When McCarthy was at his most powerful he did a number of things. The first was to set up a Committee on Un-American Activities that was there to bring people who were believed to be involved in communist activities to trial. Many people were prevented from getting jobs if they refused to attend their trial, or were found to be communist. Three million names were given to the authorities and between 1953 and 1954, 6926 people who worked in government civil service jobs were fired. ...read more.

Middle

Turn your back," and this would imply an air of tension. The repetition is also effective as it reinforces his message with monosyllables. You get the feeling that Elizabeth is extremely nervous as she enters the court because the first reference towards her in the room via the stage directions is that, "(She stands alone, her eyes looking for Proctor)." This suggests to me that she is feeling very tense and this would have an effect on the audience; and the fact that she isn't yet aware of why she has been asked to come into the court wouldn't make her feel any calmer. Danforth is very harsh towards Elizabeth almost as soon as she enters the scene with his very first words being, "Come here, woman." This is very harsh and unsympathetic, and you can tell this from his evident tone, which is noticeable throughout this scene, with lines such as, "Look at me only," using only one and two syllable words. When she is "(Glancing at Proctor's back)" he immediately demands her full attention which would undoubtedly worry her. She has a very nervous disposition and Danforth is not helping her. This idea comes from her speaking very "(Faintly)" and her not being very willing to give long answers. When asked if she dismissed Abby all she can answer is, "That is true, sir." Not a word more and she appears to use a very bland tone, because there is no demonstration of punctuation that would suggest anything else. ...read more.

Conclusion

In a last attempt to save himself, John tries to defend Elizabeth's answer by telling the court that his wife had, "Only thought to save his name!" but for someone as stern and aggressive as Danforth this has little effect, although it may of course have been very true. John had throughout the play been worried about saving the family name and perhaps this was the reason for the lie of Elizabeth, and this may make the audience feel yet more sympathy for John as Elizabeth could have just been doing what he had wanted. In the final speech of the scene Danforth sums up the way he has acted throughout, as this mean man who has very little, if any remorse, by telling Hale and the court that, "She spoke nothing of lechery, and this man has lied!" This would leave an audience feeling very subdued after a very tense scene because they know that John has revealed his affair and yet failed to have it discredited after doing nothing wrong. In all, this scene is a compelling one which has high levels of tension in almost every line, and features and explores two very interesting and deep relationships, that of John and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth and Abigail. It also shows the great work of Arthur Miller's stage directions which make it a tense scene to read as well as watch, and they are so obvious an audience would be able to pick up on them, especially those relating to the directness and aggressiveness of Danforth. ...read more.

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