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How does Miller build up tension in Act 1 of the Crucible?

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Introduction

Jennie McCombs St Julie's High School 28/06/03 Assignment no. 7 34358 CLK The Crucible. English How does Miller build up tension in Act 1 of the Crucible? Miller builds up the tension using theatrical effects, language, the relationships of characters and the plot development, the structure of the act. He makes us visually aware of the tension using these tools. He needs tension as the story of the crucible is about witchcraft. Miller draws in the character of Proctor as himself, as Miller was caught up in communism in America and fought to maintain his dignity, as Proctor does, near the end of the book. The communism is not an issue in this play but was relevant to Miller and inspired his writing of this play. He uses the build up of tension throughout this play especially in act one. The whole of act one is set in the bedroom of Betty Parris. At the beginning of the act there is only Parris and Betty in the small claustrophobic bedroom. "A small upper bedroom in the home of reverend Samuel Parris." "There is a narrow window at the left." Miller makes this act more intense by increasing the number of people in this bedroom as the act progresses. ...read more.

Middle

Mrs. Putnam is using normal language but actually makes great sweeping accusations. Miller uses a single phrase or sentence to summarise all the tension and emotion of the character or moment. "I have a sense for heat John". In this one phrase Abigail is saying that she has a sense for this heat and that she has a sense for any heat whatsoever. Abigail is saying that she still feels for Proctor as she can sense his heat even if he cannot sense hers. Miller fits all this emotion and subtext in one sentence. "There are wheels within wheels in this village and fires within fires." Here Mrs Putnam is saying there is always something behind what people are saying. This quote means that within one burning problem there are several others. It is the fire of witchcraft but inside is the way people dislike how the Salem society is run. They dislike Parris for this and have no trust of each other. Miller uses speech patterns to reveal the stress and tension of the characters involved. Most characters start to shorten their words being becomes bein'. They speak in a more rigid fashion than normal when they feel threatened or angry. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miller uses the plot development and structure of the act to build up they tension as the occurrences throughout the act become more intense and important. First in the act there is a child asleep on the bed then we find out that the children have dealt with witchcraft. Mrs. Putnam's daughter Ruth then is sick the same as Betty. Mary Warren comes in and talks to Abby then Betty tries to fly out the window to see her dead mum. Abigail has a fierce conversation with the girls saying if they tell what happened in the woods she would kill them. Proctor then enters and we find out about his affair with Abigail. Proctor, Parris and Putnam then have a fierce conversation and Reverend Hale enters and questions Abigail and Tituba, the act ends with Betty waking up and her and the other girls shout out the names of people whom they have seen with the devil. This act has become tenser with the happenings during the act building up. Miller builds this play strongly to bring out the full dramatic effect of tension. He has used a combination of language, relationships, his plot and theatrical effects to conjure up a tense atmosphere, which develops as the act continues. Miller has made us visually and physically aware of the tension using his speech and stage directions. Word count 1647. ...read more.

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