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Crucible : tension fear and hysteria

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Introduction

The play opened in 1953 written by Arthur Miller based on the real life circumstances happening in those times in America. The Crucible is a study in the mass hysteria that led to the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. Salem in 1692 is a small town. As you read the script you feel as though it is a very close community. Everyone knows each other, and the girls all play together and their parents know each other and so on. However you feel as though the majority of them don't share friendship. Either one of them is wealthier than the other or they're just jealous for various reasons. For the assignment I have chosen two scenes to analyse, one of them being, the opening scene and the other being act two (the arrests). I have chosen these scenes because I feel that these were the scenes in which the hysteria, fear, and tension is at its highest. Firstly I will analyse the opening scene by explaining what happens, the main points and characters who are involved. Act 1; the Opening Scene One night in 1692, the minister of Salem village, Reverend Samuel Parris, finds his daughter Betty and niece Abigail dancing with their friends in the forest. His slave Tituba is also present supposedly, casting spells. The play opens a few hours later with Betty lying on the bed and seemly unable to wake. Rumours of witchcraft are already spreading through the village. Mr Parris is terrified for the effect on his reputation. The introduction to various villagers show a community split by guilty secretes personal disagreements and arguments over land rights. Among them is John Procter, who has had an affair with Abigail, but now wants to have nothing to do with her. Rebecca Nurse arrives trying to calm things down, but after a the arrival of Reverend Hale, a noted witch hunter, Mr and Mrs Putnam arrive trying to exploit the situation for their own ends. To save herself Abigail blames Tituba. ...read more.

Middle

The girls all fear Abigail because of the things she says to them and forcefully using physical acts upon them. In Act 1 several different circumstances combine to make the situation (night in the forest) worse; Mr Hale is eager to try out his skills; Mrs Putnam has never stopped grieving for her dead babies, and uses the crisis to find a scapegoat. At the end of Act 1 the adults have given in to their fear that the Devil and his witches are trying to destroy Salem. The only two strong enough to disagree, John Procter and Rebecca have left the stage. Also, we see Abigail whipping Betty into a state of hysteria as she begins a fight to save her own skin and later to destroy Elizabeth Proctor. To the audience a lot of storylines are happening and there are various perspectives to the story, which builds the hysteria, so much you think to yourself, could there really be evil forces? Did the girls talk to the Devil? Are any of them witches? So to the audience the fear and hysteria has such a big effect on the way the audience think and feel for various characters. All the characters in the story have their parts on building up the atmosphere. Abigail has the biggest impact because holds some sort of power over all the other girls and they all fear her, so the fear and hysteria comes from her actions and her friends; Betty, Tituba and Mary. She has courage, intelligence and a charismatic personality but uses these gifts in destructive ways. She causes a harmful influence on the terrified villagers; she has a big impact on creating the hysteria and fear in the play. Reverend Samuel Parris is also a person who creates this setting of fear and hysteria. He is like a servant towards the people who are rich and so on but very brutal to anyone unable to defend for themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

She is encouraged by Procter to tell the truth to the courts about the girls being all frauds even when Judge Hathorne bullies her. However she begins to get weak when all the girls turn on her under the influence of Abigail. From there she is caught up in hysteria and begins to fall apart. Conclusion Arthur Miller created an atmosphere of tension, fear and hysteria throughout the play. I feel this was due to the witch-craft issue that went on and the 1950s anti-communist trials in USA that also inspired Miller. 'The Crucible' was written to show people that society in those days was ignorant towards things they didn't know and understand (things they fear) and in 'The Crucible' witch-craft was the case. The play to me showed fear well because of the witch-craft history that Miller decided to useby using this would make readers feel already tense knowing the play is some how to do with witches. The meaning of the crucible is the melting pot for metals. This can somehow relate to the story by firstly referring to the pot as a cauldron. Also, the melting point could mean the boiling point of people and how far society is wiling to go. Miller most defiantly delivered that across to readers and you know why Miller named it 'The Crucible'. 'The Crucible' is sometimes quite hard to understand as it was written long ago and the language is different to now, however the way people act and the facial expression that is well described, defiantly help the play to build up the anxiety and fear. "Bless him. Bless him. (She is rocking on her knees sobbing in terror) The book to me wasn't interesting. This is because Miller wasn't convincing about witch-craft and witch-craft doesn't relate to anything in modern times. Nothing really appealed t me, however, the deep meaning of the play, which was to show how the lack of understanding and knowledge of something resorts to violence and how it influences people, was shown very well. ...read more.

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