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How does Miller use setting and action in Set 1of 'the Crucible' to establish atmosphere and set the scene for the events which are to unfold?

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How does Miller use setting and action in Set 1of 'the Crucible' to establish atmosphere and set the scene for the events which are to unfold? This essay recounts the various ways in which Arthur Miller uses setting and action to set the atmosphere for the coming events in 'the Crucible'. During the 1950's whilst 'the Crucible' was being written a phenomenon called McCarthyism was occurring. McCarthy, who was the US president at the time, was determined to hunt down communists in the USA. He was paranoid about Communists and McCarthyism is the name given to the paranoid behaviour of his government in the hunt for communists. Miller was called in front of the judge and was tried, as were a number of his friends, but Miller was not convicted although others were. This is where Miller's idea for 'the Crucible' originated. The link between McCarthyism and the witch-hunt is persecution, which is a common parallel in both situations. Being based on a true story about a historical witch-hunt creates dramatic tension in that the audience are expecting a play based on fact rather than fiction. The audience at the time would have known that the play was about McCarthyism, and by claiming that the play was based on fact Miller creates excitement in the audience who are prepared for a factual account of McCarthyism. It is notable that Miller was unable to perform his play publicly in the US at the time and it had to be performed in Belgium. ...read more.


The audience sees a link between Proctor and Abigail as her reaction on his entering is different from when say Mrs Put'm enters. At this point the audience is not sure what the connection is between Abigail and Proctor, but when the 'knowing smile' goes upon his face it can immediately be guessed that it is something sexual. The tension slowly builds as the two characters play mind games with each other, Proctor: 'his smile widening'. Abigail sees Proctors behaviour as him wanting her so her courage increases and she goes up to him and says 'Give me a word, John. A soft word.' This is where the anger within the scene comes about. 'Her concentrated desire destroys his smile'. This is also the first place where sexual intent is written within the text. Proctors anger is immediate as he realises her intentions but Abigail's slowly rises as she is in a state of confusion. Many of the actions in this part are harsh and callous. 'With a bitter anger', 'with a flash of anger', 'shaking her' "Do you look for a whippin?" All of this happens within a few seconds and the tension is created quickly as in the form of a crescendo. As the audience can see here, any meeting between Abigail and Proctor is not going to be peaceful. The confrontation between Abigail and Proctor on Set 1 in Act 1 prepares the audience for the later confrontation in the courthouse. ...read more.


She immediately, and successfully turns the attention away from the adultery and onto what she wants everyone focused on. She immediately mentions a bird which she then says is Mary. This brings the tension straight back up because someone that is considered to be on Abigail's side is being accused of sending her spirit out. Here the girls successfully turn everything round so that it now looks as if Proctor has associated with the devil. The tension here is created by the aggravation of every character in the scene. Everyone is trying to get their points across but take sides at the very end, to whichever side seems the safest from the eye of the judge. Miller successfully creates tension using setting and actions from set 1 to prepare the audience for the events, which are to unfold. The use of light and dark in Set 1 successfully set the mood for the whole play. The use of light coming through the windows successfully provides a stylistic device that the audience can refer to for Millers ideas of truth, hope and justice. Miller is effective in introducing the audience to the main characters and portraying their personalities for their encounters in later scenes in the play. Miller successfully portrayed the mood that the characters were in by using setting and the actions to bring the play to life and add real dramatic excitement for the reader. In the play Miller effectively illustrated the injustice of society and that nothing can be done for one individual when they are left to fend for themselves. 1 Magdalena Jennings ...read more.

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