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How does Miller create a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act Two (to the point where Mary Warren enters)?

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Introduction

How does Miller create a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act Two (to the point where Mary Warren enters)? The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller in 1953, is one of the most famous modern plays. It is based around the 1692 Salem witch-hunt and trials, although it also draws many parallels to the communist 'witch-hunt' of the 1950s when Senator Joseph McCarthy set up the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). It was the HUAC's job to investigate thoroughly any one suspected of 'Un-American (Communist) activites'. Large numbers of the press and the film industry were accused, including Miller himself. Many individuals accused other people that they knew in an attempt to escape from the accusations. This led to mass hysteria. Although The Crucible is about the Salem witch-hunts it is now widely acknowledged that it was written as an allegory. The main theme of The Crucible is that of witchcraft. Witchcraft is supposedly the way in which humans have been able to work magic. The words witch and witchcraft come from the Anglo-Saxon word Wicca; the name for a male witch. Witches were, and are, thought of primarily as women although some men were classed as being witches. ...read more.

Middle

This information contains descriptions as to how the scene should look e.g. at the beginning of act 1 Miller tells us that it is in "a small upper bedroom" and that "A candle still burns near the bed, which is at the right. A chest, a chair and a small table are the other furnishings." This helps the people who produce the scenery to create a suitable setting for each act of the play. Miller also provides sound effects throughout the play such as "a psalm is heard being sung below". These sound effects help to enhance the audience's perception of what is happening around what they can see. Both the setting and the sound effects help to create a sense of tension and conflict. This is due to the fact that everything is quite plain and drab, and that there are very few sound effects. The lack of anything interesting in the scenery makes the audience concentrate on what is happening on the stage and what the characters are doing. The lacks of sound effects ensure that the audience listen to the dialogue between Elizabeth and John. The Proctor's living room, the setting for Act 2, is very plain. This is shown by "It is the dark, dull, and rather long living room of the time." ...read more.

Conclusion

This also links into the historical context of the play; McCarthyism. By the end of the act hysteria has set in on the town of Salem. People try to save themselves by convicting others. However it isn't just self-preservation which leads some to some of the convictions; lots of people attempt to settle personal quarrels. Abigail, Reverend Parris and Thomas Putnam all manage to settle some of their personal quarrels by condemning others as witches. This is similar to what happened during McCarthyism. Those who found themselves before the HUAC accused their own friends and neighbours in an attempt to escape from their own accusations. However some people, such as the initiator of the "hunt" Joseph McCarthy, also used it to try and settle personal quarrels. By the end of the scene the audience should be feeling very worried and tense. Everything is beginning to get out of hand by the end of the act. These are the same thoughts and feelings, which were being felt within the American public at the time of McCarthyism. All of the afore mentioned methods help to create a perfect sense of tension. When they are all combined it means that the atmosphere is created holistically so that all the senses can be used to experience it. Luke Lobo Sunday, 12 February 2006 - 1 - ...read more.

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