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Explore how Arthur Miller builds up tension towards hysteria in act 3 of The Crucible.

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The Crucible Coursework Explore how Arthur Miller builds up tension towards hysteria in act 3: The Crucible is a book following the mass hysteria which resulted in the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. The book follows a group of key characters caught up in the persecution. Act three focuses on the persecution of Martha Corey. The act is set in a courtroom and begins with an empty stage; you can hear the proceedings through a partition. This is a good device as it makes the audience pay attention because they have to listen to the actors. Early on in the proceedings Hathorne asks a question that leads Martha Corey to answer with "I am innocent to a witch. I know not what a witch is." Hathorne then catches her out by asking " How do you know, then, that you are not a witch?" this is a very clever comeback which builds tension as it begins the persuasion of the court that Martha Corey is actually a witch. ...read more.


A huge twist in the story is unveiled on page 70 as Francis enters the court with alleged evidence that the girls, who began the whole hysteria with the accusations or Tituba, are frauds. After this evidence is introduced Hathorne becomes enraged and shouts "This is contempt, sir, contempt!" This is an indication that tension is building as even Judge Hathorne is becoming aggressive and angry. Later on page 70 John Proctor enters holding Mary Warren claiming that she wishes to tell the truth of the girls deceit. This adds great amounts of tension as the reader knows that the girls are deceiving everyone and we are under suspense wondering whether or not the truth will at last be known. This may add to hysteria as some of the townspeople could be lead to believe that Mary Warren is on the side of the Devil and is defending the 'Witches'. On page 71 line 16 Danforth says "Do you know, Mr Proctor, that the entire contention of the state in these trials is that the voice of Heaven is speaking through these children?" ...read more.


This is all a very tense moment as you once again are under the hope that the girls will be found to be frauds, however once again your hope is in vein. Lastly and quite possibly the most hysterical moment in the entire act is when the girls pretend that Mary Warren uses her spirit to attack them. Abigail leads the group into pretending Mary Warren's spirit has taken the shape of a bird and is intent on tearing away Abigail's face because of envy. Abigail builds the entire group into a hysterical chant. During this hysterical chant Mr. Danforth continues to interrogate them asking if they have ever compacted with the devil, they deny it. The suspense is at boiling point and Mary Warren is almost certain to hang. This part of the Act is the utmost high point of the hysteria and Arthur Miller has cleverly used the short bursts of speech in order to build up the franticness. The Act ends this way with many people shouting and screaming at one another. Miller has cleverly left it at this high point and let the tension dip at the beginning of the next act. ...read more.

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