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How does Miller make the "yellow bird" scene especially dramatic? Explain and comment on Mary Warren and Abigail Williams' varying thoughts and feelings. What techniques do you think are particularly successful in creating dramatic tension?

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Introduction

How does Miller make the "yellow bird" scene especially dramatic? Explain and comment on Mary Warren and Abigail Williams' varying thoughts and feelings. What techniques do you think are particularly successful in creating dramatic tension? Arthur Miller wrote 'The Crucible' in 1953 as a response to the incriminating paranoia surrounding the McCarthy witch-hunts of the time. He related McCarthy's trials against suspected Communists to events of a similar nature regarding witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. Although Miller was liberal in his fictionalisation of the events, the context of the story is historically correct: The strict Puritan views employed by the inhabitants of Salem led to the suspicious hysteria surrounding witchcraft allegations. These fundamentalist beliefs meant the people lived in fear of "the devil" and all it represented, so anybody seen acting differently was likely to be suspected. Witchcraft, or consorting with the devil, seemed the ultimate sin to Puritans, whose lives revolved around what the Bible told them to do. It was an era, like that in America during the 1950s, when a mere accusation could doom a person, and when justice often became secondary to saving face. ...read more.

Middle

As the audience begins to notice this, the drama increases because the loss of power to such important names is shocking and disorientating. The judges, Mary, and Abigail were all blinded by power and unknowingly allowed it to control them. They were trapped in circumstances that they could no longer escape. Mary wanted to confess and take back control of the situation but found that it was too late. Abigail lost the one thing she wanted because her own plans went out of control. The fear and paranoia took control of the situation and created madness in the village. It is then obvious to the audience, looking on helplessly, that nobody would escape, not even those who helped spark the madness. Danforth is a good representation of the typical hardworking yet still wrong authority figure. He uses fear to question Mary and the girls, and it seems like he's threatening them to make them say what he wants to hear. He doesn't want to hear the truth. If he finds out, then all he stands for is also a lie, and he will lose his credibility and respect. ...read more.

Conclusion

The main themes - fear and suspicion - could be related to by Miller's original audience in the 1950's, who were living under the Red Scare, or even a modern audience under threat of terrorism such as in parts of Northern Ireland. The universally recognised themes are major factors in creating tension in the play, for if the audience did not understand where Miller was coming from then any additional linguistic or dramatic devices would not be fully appreciated. Linguistically, Miller's use of repetition and varying tone serve to add to the dramatic tension already created by the setting and the well-developed characters. Movement and stage directions play a major part in the play, as is a tendency of Miller, and are used to good effect. Whilst given much guidance from the script, actors and directors are allowed freedom to unfold the scene at the speed they choose and can decide on whether to use such props as the celebrated yellow bird. This artistic discretion is an essential part in the way the play has been presented differently since it was first published, and allows the dramatic tension to develop to full effect within each scene and beyond. ...read more.

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