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How does Miller portray Proctor in this extract?

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Introduction

How does Miller portray Proctor in this extract? The opening stage directions from this extract immediately show the mood of the play, and the extreme tension that the characters are under, "It is as though they are stood in a spinning world. It is beyond sorrow, above it." This shows us that the play has reached the moment of crisis, and that the situation is now totally out of control. The metaphorical language Miller uses here emphasises the tension, and the huge emotion of the moment. The first speech in the extract is a conversation between Proctor and his wife. The speech has a superficial tension to it, as they discuss Elizabeth's pregnancy, although from this tension we can see that there is an underlying intimacy. Miller achieves this effect by using short sentences and responses such as "The child?" and "It grows." This emphasises the tension between the two although the topic is one of unity showing their intimacy. While Elizabeth is talking to her husband she is desperately trying to hold back the emotion that she is actually feeling. This can be seen as when asked whether she has seen her children she replies, "I have not. She catches a weakening in herself and downs it." She is being non-committal towards Proctor in order to retain her nobility and not break down. ...read more.

Middle

Miller uses this to steer the audience into believing that this is a dishonourable path to take, and emphasises the enormity of the decision that he has to face. In reply to this, Elizabeth says, "I cannot judge you, John." Elizabeth now has an air of tenderness towards Proctor, which contrasts with her earlier coldness. The stage directions Miller uses for Proctor's next speech are "simply- a pure question." The lack of anger, guilt or implicit judgement here shows that the couple now have a sense of unity, and that past problems are now forgotten. In this moment of great emotion and mental turmoil, Proctor and Elizabeth are brought together. Miller again steers the audience to see that Proctor will not confess when he gives the directions "pauses, then with a flailing of hope". We are now led to believe that Proctor will be unable to bring himself to confess as he can see that it is morally incorrect behaviour. In the next speech by Proctor where he says, "I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is fraud. I am not that man. She is silent. My honesty is broke Elizabeth; I am no good man." Here Miller portrays Proctor as not being afraid of death, but that he does not feel that he is worthy to die alongside the likes of Rebecca as he is a sinful man. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miller achieves this idea by using continuous questions and repeating his name, "what is John Proctor, what is John Proctor?" As he is explaining why he cannot have his name taken from to Danforth he says, "Because I lie and sign myself to lies!" here the repetition of "lie", the exclamations and the incomplete sentences convey Proctor's emotion. In this extract, Proctor and Hale's characters are juxtaposed, as Hale has become a broken minister and pitiful while Proctor stands tall in his beliefs and therefore retains his nobility. This is emphasised by Miller when Hale says, "You cannot!" This is directly followed by Proctor saying, "I can." This juxtaposition of views contrasts the two men's' predicaments. Proctor's final speech is loaded with imagery when he says, "Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs." Miller deliberately does this to show the morality of his decision and to emphasise the wrongdoing of characters such as Danforth. The final stage directions as Proctor hangs are of a "drumroll" and "the new sun pouring in upon (Elizabeth's) face." The drum roll symbolises Proctors death, and this is contrasted with the connotations of the sun being new beginning. At the start of the passage Proctor is a troubled character, but after he is given guidance, and reunites with Elizabeth, Proctor is portrayed as being a true tragic figure by Miller as he chooses the correct path and thereby redeems his past sins. 1398 words Charlie Smith As Coursework ...read more.

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