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How does Miller create tension in Act I of

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How does Miller create tension in Act I of "The Crucible"? The anti-Communist hysteria during the 1950's led to a mass persecution of people associated with Communism. Post WW2 America was a nation if fear and suspicion because of the on going cold war with Russia, anyone one remotely connected to a known communist could be persecuted, this sparked a fear that Russia could take over the world. At the time a playwright, Arthur Miller could not express his feelings due to society's strong support for M^cCarthyism. So Arthur Miller wrote a play about the Salem witch-hunts during 16^th century America. Miller had to be subtle in how he expressed his feelings about the political movement M^cCarthyism, so he used the play as an allegory. This play uses the Salem witch-hunt, because of the similarities in the unsupported accusations, and how people were encouraged to denounce their friends and family if they were known witches otherwise they could be portrayed as witches. The Salem witch-hunt was a lot more savage and the behavior of the people was anthropomorphic, with the "witches" being burned to the stake, with only people's accusations as evidence. Salem was a theocracy and church was considered to be the most important part of life. ...read more.


The allegory would mean the audience would relate to it, creating tension when they think it's about one thing, and sub-consciously know its about their society at the time. The time the story is set in is a somber era, the story is made eerie because of the black garments symbolic of the devil and archaic speech, instantly making the audience apprehensive, the first words spoken being "My Betty be hearty soon?" This inverted dialect makes it seem more Biblical and legal, heightening the impact they have as does the syntax. The older time distances us, making the characters seem austere and quite oppressive. The double-negative furthers the tension by adding confusion for the audience making it more farcical, which further distances us. Claustrophobia, envelops the audience with overwhelming anxiety as there is no escape for the characters, they are enclosed which gives the audience a sense that they are encircled as well. The first thing we notice is that Parris's room is small, with "narrow windows and leaded panes" depicted like a prison, this invents a feeling of claustrophobia. Parris is trapped, making the audience more vulnerable. To continue the theme of confinement, "not permitted anyone to read a novel if handy," this conveys that the villagers were limited by their repressive laws, enjoyment itself was deemed unlawful. ...read more.


If he denies witchcraft in his own home it could seem dishonorable and suspicious so he doesn't, although he is a disliked character with the audience they can empathize with his situation. There are quite a lot of antagonisms in the play with Abigail and Elizabeth both in love with John Proctor. Proctor and Parris, Parris isn't godly and is a hypocrite etc. these conflicts are like smaller plots in their own way and add to the audience's overall building tension. The structure is broken up with the overture and prose which the actors interpret and use the instructions to show it to the audience. This adds an extra dimension to the play, incorporating the prose, with its history and explanations. Intertextualism is also used with the themes that link Salem and M^cCarthyism, this sparks questions in the audience or reader of how it is years since the Salem trials but we still haven't learnt and that the human character remains unchanged. The questions (dramatic devices) that go unanswered, especially at the end with Proctor being hung, should he have been? This shows Millers' feelings that he doesn't want to go back to the same society that tried to hang a good lawful man. It is ironic that the people that are making the accusations have themselves been associated with Devil (Abigail). These themes mean more to a 1950's audience and would have distorted their views on M^cCarthyism. ...read more.

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