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How does Arthur Miller create tension in Act 3 of The Crucible, with specific reference to the "yellow bird" scene?

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Introduction

How does Arthur Miller create tension in Act 3 of The Crucible, with specific reference to the "yellow bird" scene? The play, The Crucible, can build up tension with its title. A crucible is a small glass bowl used in scientific experiments to mix substances to create a reaction. The play The Crucible is a similar idea. If you mix a sleepy town in America, which has children who are longing to break free from the bounds of society, with the idea of something supernatural trying to wreak havoc in their church-run community, then you create something that gives the normally downtrodden children the chance to have free rule over what happens in the town and, more importantly, who lives and who dies. The context in which the play was written creates tension because it was written at a time when there was a great fear of the unknown and of all things that the American leaders could not (or would not) explain. The play The Crucible was written in 1953 in the middle of the McCarthy political 'witch-hunt'. McCarthyism was a good modern parallel for the reader to compare the play to, because just as the Salem witch trials hunted out the witches; the House Un-American Activities Committee hunted out 'un-American' activities, namely Communism. In the play those brought to trial feared for their lives and their descendants' honour. Arthur Miller could relate to this emotion having been brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee himself. ...read more.

Middle

For example both Danforth and Proctor repeat "God damns all liars" many times to remind the girls (and the others) that they should not lie because God will damn them. This creates tension because Proctor and Danforth are two of the most important characters, in Act 3, and both characters want Mary to tell the truth but their versions of the truth are very different. The audience wonders which "truth" Mary will tell and wonder what the consequences will be. The strongest way that Miller creates tension is by using short powerful lines, and the force of words to try to knock over a character and make them see the error of their ways. For example "It is a whore." is much more powerful than "I am an adulterer and Abigail was my mistress." The audience is shocked by these powerful sentences, just as much as the other characters are, and then, with this new astounding revelation, they are eager to know what will happen next. The different motivations of the characters create tension throughout Act 3 because there is a lot of dramatic irony. Examples of this dramatic irony are when the girls are pointing at the "yellow bird" and the judge group onstage think that there is really a "yellow bird" that is going to swoop down and attack the girls but the audience knows that they are pretending to see it and that there is no "yellow bird". The characters' motivations create a lot of tension in Act 3 because each character wants to gain something different from these witch trials. ...read more.

Conclusion

Abigail is very good at shifting the attention from herself to the present scapegoat. Other characters throughout the play seize the attention from another character and put the attention where they want it. For example, at the end of the "yellow bird" scene Mary takes the attention from the girls who are watching the "yellow bird" and puts it onto Proctor by saying; "Don't touch me- don't touch me!"..."You're the Devil's man!" This sudden outburst from an otherwise quiet and gentle character draws the attention to her and she transfers it onto Proctor. Since reading The Crucible I have had a recurring dream where a new pupil at school has the gift of being able to read people's minds and can reveal their innermost thoughts and secrets to everyone else in the school. This, for me, is a modern day parallel because I think that in The Crucible the worst part of the witch trials is that the people of Salem can have no secrets and everything is exposed to a committee of judges. I would hate the idea of everyone in a small community, like Salem, to know everything that I have done in the past and to be able to pass judgement on me without ever meeting me or knowing the circumstances. This makes me feel a great deal of sympathy for John and Elizabeth Proctor because in a matter of weeks they went from being upstanding important members of the community to prisoners in their own town jail. The part that created the most tension throughout act 3, for me, was when John Proctor said "It is a hoar." Angela Aiken ...read more.

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