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Critical Essay - Arthur Miller's "The Crucible",

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Introduction

Critical Essay Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", a powerful and compelling play, is one which explores the theme of power. "The Crucible", set in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600s, explores morality and a rigid society's desperate need for preservation during the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Through the successful use of setting, theme and characterisation, Miller enhances the audience's understanding of the play's themes and purposes. Miller employs various techniques to introduce the theme of power. The stage directions in Act 1 give clear examples of symbolism, which expands the audience's understanding of the community: "There is a narrow window at the left. Through its leaded panes the morning sunshine streams" (Page 1, stage directions) Light is often associated with truth and so the fact that the window is "narrow" indicates to the audience that the Salem society, more significantly the local Reverend Parris, are intentionally blocking out the light and allowing what they perceive as the truth to enter. ...read more.

Middle

Abigail openly admits to her uncle that there was no Witchcraft involved. This allows the audience to learn what had actually happened in the woods before the hysteria and superstition of the community had distorted the truth. This occurs before the figures of authority are presented in the play, therefore giving us a clear view to the extent of the hysteria and power. The themes of manipulation and control are implemented in act 1, Scene 2 while revealing important aspects of Abigail Williams' character. Abigail- Parris' niece- had been dancing in the woods with other girls, and later intimidates them to silence: "... I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you." (Act 1.2.p15) This demonstrates Abigail's capability to control and influence the girls. She later uses the accusations of witchcraft to her own purposes and personal vendettas and encourages the girls to do so. ...read more.

Conclusion

His authority and status in the town as a respected minister gives him the power to - if he discovers no marks of the Devil - end the witch trials before they begin. "Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your hands of this!" (Act 2.p.63) Hale sees the injustice of this and still he allows it, just as Pilate had done when he authorized the crucifixion of Christ. John perceives Hale as a broken and incompetent minister. Here, the audience's faith in Hale deteriorates, he had the power to prevent these events from happening and didn't. "The Crucible", by Arthur Miller, employs various devices to enhance the audience's comprehension of the theme of power, which is prominent throughout the play. Miller introduces this theme through theme, setting and characterisation, which are explored and developed in following acts. The theme of power and its mistreatment illustrates to the audience how crucial conformity and order is to a rigid society such as Salem and how power in the hands of the wrong people can lead to ...read more.

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