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

Crucible Essay - What is the dramatic significance of Act 2 to the play as whole?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What is the dramatic significance of Act 2 to the play as whole? Consider the effects of character and action; the effect of dramatic devices; the layers of meaning in language, ideas themes; the historical context. Act two begins in the common room of The Proctors household. It has been eight days since Abigail and the girls made their accusations against the innocent people within the community of Salem. At the beginning of the scene the common room is empty and the only thing that can be heard is the voice of Elizabeth Proctor softly singing to her children. John soon arrives and as Elizabeth enters the common room the couple engage in a conversation of small talk that appears so painful it suggests tension. It appears that John has done wrong, as he is constantly trying to please her, and yet she seems most unimpressed. The scene progresses as the two sit down for dinner. Their servant, Mary Warren has defied the orders of John and Elizabeth by going to the courts in Salem. Elizabeth informs John that there have been fourteen arrests, she also tells him that the court have the power to hang the accused and that the Deputy Governor promises that people will be hung if they do not confess. John is bewildered by the arrests but reassures Elizabeth that Abigail swore her dancing had nothing to do with witchcraft. Elizabeth wants him to give this statement in court, but he protests that he cannot as Abigail told him this information while they were 'alone' together. ...read more.

Middle

Another character introduced in Act two is Mary Warren. She is extremely important to the Act as she is what makes the connection between village life and the sentencing that is happening at the courts, and with the proctor household. She is the one who tells us that there have been thirty-nine arrests. When she first arrives in Act two we find that she has defied the orders of John and Elizabeth by going to the court. When told that she must not return she rebels using the excuse "I am an official of the court". This is a fine example of how the hysteria of witchcraft has affected the everyday life in the community of Salem. Mary is a servant within the proctor household; she is paid nine pounds a year to 'keep the house'. She is not in a position to rebel against the word of Elizabeth or John, and under normal circumstances would not do so. We know that this is peculiar behaviour because of Elizabeth's reply to Proctor, when asked why she had let Mary go to the court. Elizabeth says 'She frightened all my strength away ... I forbid her to go, and she raises up her chin like the daughter of a prince and says to me, 'I must go to Salem, Goody Proctor'. It is clear to us now just how much the affair between Proctor and Abigail influences the current events and the events that are to follow. Mary also plays another role within Act two; she portrays to us the amount of hate that Abigail holds for Elizabeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

'(in terror): I cannot, they'll turn on me' The language throughout The Crucible is what Arthur Miller portrayed as seventeenth century. When Miller started to write The Crucible his first source of information were the actual court records in which all the court proceedings are minutely transcribed. In Millers autobiography 'Timebends' he says 'I wanted to study the actual words of the interrogations, a gnarled way of speaking ... and I came to love its feel like hard, burnished wood. Without planning to, I even elaborated a few of the grammatical forms myself, the double negatives especially.' This elaboration is most definitely apparent throughout the play. Miller has cleverly managed to give us speech that is old and therefore sets the scene, without too much of a difference from modern language, that we find ourselves struggling to translate. Words such as 'Aye', 'Nay' and 'Harlot' though all words that are considered old fashioned and seventeenth century, are not words of which we fail to understand the meaning. The language in this play does not just set a time scene but also a religious one. The language and vocabulary featured in this play is very much based on the King James Version of the Bible. A prime example of this: when Elizabeth tells John of Mary's visit to the courts, she describes the power of Abigail and the girls with a scene from the Old Testament. 'Abigail brings the other girls into court and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. ...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. Literature: Essay on 'The Crucible'

    ''I am not empowered to trade your life for a lie'', '' I will not deal in lies, Mister!'' These tell us that Danforth lives his life by the theocracy. Miller uses these lines as dramatic irony as it is exactly what Judge Danforth is doing; punishing the innocent for a lie that has been told by the girls.

  2. What is the significance of the title: The crucible?

    minutes, he thinks he's seen it before and that it can be easily dealt with. When he begins to realise what he's done, he tries to rectify his ways in many instances by trying to save many condemned people. Salem in general was purified in some senses.

  1. Using both Act 2 and Act 4, explore the relationship between John and Elizabeth. ...

    were being accused of being communist sympathisers, and the word of the conspicuous Joseph McCarthy and the rest of the 'House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities' was believed over these honourable men- just as Salem believes Abigail Williams over Rebecca Nurse, who is held in the highest esteem in

  2. Long Essay - The Crucible

    This brings to light Elizabeth's undying loyalty to her husband. Although she knows of Proctor's affair with Abigail, she is too loyal to shame him in court. In response to Danforth's question, 'Did he indeed turn from you?', she says 'My husband - is a goodly man, sir.'

  1. How does the character and language of Abigail Williams contribute to the dramatic effect ...

    Abigail replies firmly "No". This is the first and only time that Abigail tells the truth but yet Parris does not believe her. In act two, people begin to believe that Abigail did not conjure spirits and practice witchcraft in the woods. In this time period everybody believed that witches kept dolls and when

  2. This Essay is Discussing Whether Abigail Williams was a Victim or an Aggressor in ...

    (Abigail was the Proctor's house maid.) When Abigail, Betty and girls were dancing in the woods, they weren't practising witchcraft, they were having fun. The environment in which they lived was very controlled and they had little freedom. The girls appear to be attention seeking. This means that they are victims of a boring life but

  1. The Crucible - Act 2 from Reverend Hale’s entry to his exit.

    After Hale enters, they both calm down immediately to save face in front of the Reverend. Proctor is unhappy that the reverend came in to jibe at him for missing the Sunday mass and all the other important ceremonies like the christening of his son.

  2. Compare and Contrast the Exchange between Proctor and Abigail in Act 1 with the ...

    Another contrast between the two exchanges is how feelings are shown between the two characters. During Abigail?s and Proctor?s exchange the feelings between the two are presented as uncontrollable and wild. Abigail says how John ?sweated like a stallion whenever I come near!? The bestial imagery is used to describe their sexual relations.

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