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How does Miller present the relationship between Proctor and Elizabeth in Acts 2 and 4?

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Introduction

Milandra McGrath 10v 21st November 06 How does Miller present the relationship between Proctor and Elizabeth in Acts 2 and 4? The Crucible, a play written about the mass hysteria which led to the Salem witch trials was inspired by the mass hysteria of the anti-communism crusade in the early 1950s. John and Elizabeth Proctor's characters were loosely based on real people and events. Miller presents to the audience Proctor and Elizabeth's moral journey, which ends with Proctor dying with a clear conscience and a purified soul. Some of the techniques Miller uses to present their relationship are through dramatic irony, use of space and format of speech. When Proctor and Elizabeth's relationship is introduced in Act 2 Miller immediately creates a sense of their disparity for the audience. From the brief scene setting that Act 2 begins with, signs of their fragile and reserved relationship is shown. Within this initial paragraph Miller describes Proctor tasting Elizabeth's food, not being content with it, and so as a result seasons it with salt. We later see Proctor complimenting Elizabeth on the food, 'It's well seasoned'. ...read more.

Middle

They act as of they can't bear to be to close to each other, yet the more movement and space created between them the more tension that is created. Elizabeth regularly shows her coldness through Miller's stage directions. There are times when Elizabeth is moving away from Proctor and where her back is turned towards Proctor, 'Her back is turned to him. He turns to her and watches her.' Miller is showing the barrier that there is between the characters, which they can't break. Proctor tries profusely to break the barrier, but Elizabeth does not seem open to breaking it down. The idea of Proctor trying to break down a barrier is also shown through good use of language. At the beginning of Act 2 Proctor is almost having a one-sided conversation. He says some quite long speeches with up to three or four sentences and Elizabeth responds with a few words. He inquires mainly about Elizabeth; 'Are you well today?' this shows his interest and care for her. Elizabeth responds with short, snappy, monosyllabic answers, 'I am.' It seems that Proctor cares about Elizabeth deeply, but Elizabeth does not quite feel the same way. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miller does use more obvious and blatant techniques to present their relationship to the audience as well. Elizabeth's drastic change in beliefs shows how rather than magnifying Proctor's faults, she realises her own and is happy to accept them, 'Suspicion kissed you when I did...It were a cold house I kept!'. Elizabeth has forgiven Proctor for his lechery, which was one of the worse acts a Puritan could commit, showing how much she prepared to do to save their relationship. During the three months that Proctor and Elizabeth have been apart, Miller repeatedly tries to show how much the characters' relationship has flourished just from being apart. Elizabeth has realised how cold she previously was and so has tried to improve herself by becoming more warm and responsive. Miller presents Proctor and Elizabeth's relationship excellently by use of dramatic techniques, but also by making the characters very human. The audience can relate to the couple's troubles and problems, which allows Miller to bring across the message of the play effectively. The way in which Miller used different speech format, long and short sentences, and pauses to communicate the characters' feelings subtly was one of the most effective techniques used. Miller's fictional characters were brought to life through language and real-life situations. ...read more.

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