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How Does Miller Build Up The Dramatic Tension In Act 2?

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Introduction

H/W How Does Miller Build Up The Dramatic Tension In Act 2? 18/11/06 Act two is an Act of many different emotions. It has a very rocky start, which leads to bad news and a build up of anxiety. The tension varies throughout, from dinner at the start and Mary's intervention as well as Elizabeth going to court at the end. At the start of Act Two there is an awkward tension between Proctor and Elizabeth, which carries throughout the Act. The tension is shown from the start. The two of them share short, sharp sentences. Proctor says of the meal, "It is well seasoned." He is lying because it says in the introduction to the Act that he adds salt to the pot himself without her knowing. This combines with everything else, i.e. the quietness, the fact that they can't have a proper conversation between the two of them and the general unease. This suggests that there is secrecy between them, which we know to be Abigail, and that they are both unhappy being together. Arthur Miller is giving clues to the audience that the two are far apart as if they have a chasm between them. The catalyst to make them argue is "... I thought you had gone to Salem this afternoon." ...read more.

Middle

Proctor is annoyed with the questioning as he realises his 'power' lessening. "Proctor deep in his attempt to define this man." This proves the struggle between Hale and Proctor and proctor has met his match, in the sense that not everybody will give into him easily, which is confirmed towards the end of the Act. Hale digs a hole for himself when he says, "theology is a fortress." He carries onto say "No crack in a fortress may be accounted small. (He rises and seems worried)." Hale could be worried because of what he just said could be interpreted in two different ways, either, religion must stick together or what made him worried - religion should be open and encouraging people to join Christianity rather than shutting its doors or people and defending itself in its fortress. As Hale is about to leave, Elizabeth makes a silly mistake by asking Hale "I do think you are questioning me somewhat? Are you not?" This is like pressing the self-destruct button on her marriage, as Proctor could have been safe but instead brought back into the limelight. She adds to this by saying in desperation "I think you must tell him John." This, just as Hale is about to step outside the door. ...read more.

Conclusion

After Herrick refuses "Proctor stands there, gulping air." He knows he losing a battle fast and hasn't got anything left in him to win it. He is feeling guilty when he has done nothing wrong and begins to hate himself for not helping Elizabeth when he couldn't have done anything in the first place. Miller shows the audience that whatever the Proctor's go through their love for each other will still remain strong. To release some anger inside himself he tries to see off Hale and confronts Mary. He tries to find the truth, as he wants any sort of clues to help Elizabeth. His anguish is at an all time high, he finally apprehends that he cannot function without Elizabeth, "hesitating, and with a deep hatred of himself," and that he shouldn't have disregarded her earlier in the Act. The end of the Act ends in very high tension with Proctor telling a speech almost and more or less giving up shouting at Mary. Miller makes the audience feel sorry for Proctor who had been on the stage throughout the Act. As the curtain falls the audience are left to think about Proctor's fights against the court, and in some aspects, himself, where he did not know how to treat Elizabeth until the very end. He is a vital role to the rest of the play and this Act will be an important look-back for him at the end of the play. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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