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Essay Title: How does Miller create and raise dramatic effects and tension within Act III of the Crucible?

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1Essay Title: How does Miller create and raise dramatic effects and tension within Act III of the Crucible? 21-Sep-03 By Michael Roberts, 11Co. Arthur Miller is now seen by many as one of the most controversial and cunning play writers of this century. Understanding the irony of the Crucible shows just how cunning he was in deceiving most critics and experts of the time, and even today. Miller had to work a number of odd jobs to support himself. These were formative years for Miller, during which the formerly indifferent student began reading on his own and developing a strong social conscience and sense of justice. This is why he had managed not to 'jump on the bandwagon' and formed his own views of the 1950's and used his play to show his ideas and political views. One of the major themes in the play is that of good versus evil. Based on the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century, The Crucible explores the fragility of a changing society and the difficulty of doing good in the face of evil and tremendous social pressures, both at the social and personal level. John Proctor, the flawed protagonist of the play, is faced with the choice of accepting responsibility for his actions and doing the right thing. In a similar vein, society as a whole must deal with the challenge of doing good when threatened by evil. Although Miller does not do this so overtly, he deals with issues of gender. The accusers in the play are a group of young, hysterical females, and the majority of people that they accuse are women, such as Elizabeth and Rebecca. In spite of the false accusations against them, it is the female characters that act courageously and with faith. At the same time, most of the male characters are unable to defend the truth, due to their moral weakness and scepticism. ...read more.


The second point where Miller raises dramatic tension within the Act is the outburst made by John Proctor, husband to the accused. During the court scene John Proctor begins to feel all hope fading fast. Abigail is twisting and turning Danforth and Hathorne due to her look of innocence and purity on the exterior. Proctor must feel a sense of anger along with the audience and he proclaims, "Whore! Whore! It is a whore's vengeance, she sort to dance upon Elizabeth's grave!" The audience must begin to feel hope and the tension starts to rise amongst the stage characters. Instead of Proctor deciding it's the right time to say this, I think that this outburst is more due to anger and hatred against Abigail, after hearing her manipulative lies. This is the first point within the scene that Miller has made the audience feel hope and excitement for the Proctor's throughout the play. Also Miller uses this point for the characters on stage to see what Abigail is really like under the innocent exterior. They see here not as an innocent seven-teen year old girl but as a malicious coward. Abigail also realises that the noose is tightening round her neck. This important point of the play gives more interest and sets the pace and volume throughout the rest of the play. Miller chooses this pace and level of volume to produce passion onstage from the characters onstage and the audience. This passion Miller wants is what he feels toward the situation in his time. The third point of high tension is the moment after the outburst made by John Proctor. Judge Danforth, an insensitive and ruthless judge more interested in the number of convictions, calls in the waiting Elizabeth Proctor. He calls her in to ask her why she threw out her maidservant who was Abigail. As Elizabeth was waiting outside she has not heard proclaims by her husband. ...read more.


This just leads to more volume on stage and dramatically finishes with Mary Warren screaming and Hale shouting that he quits the proceedings. Miller has created such a dramatic scene to raise the tension to a high, and cleverly ends the scene at a tense moment, which gives doubt for the audience. The choice John Proctor must make is between saving either him or society. His failure to do good initially allows events to get out of hand and eventually forces him into a position where he must make a choice. Reverend Hale, while not subject to the same moral quandary as Proctor, also suffers a crisis of consciousness for his failure to strive hard enough to stop the proceedings of the court. In contrast to them both are Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor, whose moral and emotional steadfastness represents society at its best. In a society at odds with itself and where reason and faith in the society has been replaced with irrationality and self-doubt, a clever manipulator can cause chaos. The Reverend Parris, Danforth, Hathorne, and Putnam represent the corruption of society by self-interested parties preying on society's fears. Through them, Miller highlights the destruction that manipulation and weak- minded people can thrust upon society. Miller suggests that in such times good can only triumph through a sacrifice upon the altar of society, that the crisis might only be able to be rectified by the death of those who struggle to uphold society's values. The death of John Proctor, though it might seem a tragic waste, is necessary, both for his own personal redemption and that of his society. The sacrifice of Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey and others, recalls the sacrifice of Christ for the sake of humankind. In the end, The Crucible focuses on a historical event to drive home issues that essentially characterise all societies at all times, which makes the play both universal and enduring. 1 2 3 Michael Roberts 2 Page 1 of 4. ...read more.

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