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Explore key moments of tension within Act 2 and 3 of "The Crucible". How does Miller convey the conflict between characters of the Salem Community?

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Introduction

Explore key moments of tension within Act 2 and 3 of "The Crucible". How does Miller convey the conflict between characters of the Salem Community? Throughout "The Crucible", conspiracy and lies lead to the corruption and downfall of the 17th century Salem community. From the title it is evident that this pious society is a "crucible" or a vessel filled with boiling, bubbling characters waiting to react at any moment. Arthur Miller's own experiences of the 1950s McCarthy witch trials, where individuals were accused of being Communists, inspired him to write the play and he is able to provide a realistic insight into the pain and suffering certain characters faced as a result of the accusations. In the God-fearing community of Salem, hysteria runs out of control and the malicious lies of certain characters destroy lives. Characters become more suspicious of each other and anxiety is paramount for those characters that stand accused. Through the use of stage directions, Miller highlights the tension between the Proctors within their struggling marriage. The turmoil within the marriage may be viewed as a microcosm of the greater conflict that exists in Salem as a whole; they no longer feel comfortable with each other as they try in vain to rebuild their marriage. ...read more.

Middle

By having Abigail at the centre of the accusations, Miller is creating more suffering for Elizabeth as Abigail is the centre of attention. Elizabeth's faith suffers because she constantly emphasises her own insecurities. When Abigail's name is mentioned tension between the couple escalates and Miller reveals a role reversal whereby Elizabeth becomes infuriated with her husband, "John you are not open with me. You saw her with a crowd, you said." Elizabeth interprets what John says as he has been alone with Abigail - breaching her trust. She appears to be determined and forthright, speaking her mind, whereas John looks to be the inferior character; he knows he has little defence against the affair, "Spare me! You forget nothin' and forgive nothin' Miller's use of a long speech at this point in the play allows John to try and justify himself, however, his guilt is clearly evident. John's "anger is rising" because he knows he is at fault and the "violent undertone" reinforces this idea as he battles with his conscience and Elizabeth. Miller presents the court officials to show the audience the seriousness of the accusations. Miller shows emotion in Cheever and Herrick and the audience can tell they know what they are doing to Elizabeth is wrong. ...read more.

Conclusion

I have known her. The climax of the scene is when Elizabeth enters the courtroom. Miller's use of disjointed and stilted speeches, is coupled with frequent pauses, indicating the character's nervousness, Elizabeth: Your Honour, I - in that time I were sick. And I - my husband is a good and righteous man... Under such pressure it is understandable that characters will break down. Yet Elizabeth's resolve to remain loyal to her husband ironically sees her denounce him to a hushed and vigilant courtroom, Elizabeth: (faintly) No, sir Danforth: Remove her, Marshal. The dramatic effect of her short response has a significant impact on the audience as we realise that she has unintentionally sealed her husband's fate. It is perhaps symbolic that when Miller closes the door on Elizabeth's exit the audience realise that with regret realise that the door has been closed on any hope of an appeal from John. Through his clever use of stage directions Miller has successfully shown tension and friction between characters. The Proctors' broken marriage is communicated using stilted dialogue and anxious body language. Miller uses the physical proximity of characters to indicate the difficulties within their relationships and heighten the vulnerability of individuals during Danforth's rigorous interrogations. The society of Salem that Miller portrays is one which relied on the church's teachings. Ultimately, it is the misinterpretation of characters' desires for personal gain and power that lead to nobody being safe from the witch trials. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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