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How does Miller use the concept of witchcraft for dramatic effect and to expose hypocrisy?

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How does Miller use the concept of witchcraft for dramatic effect and to expose hypocrisy? Arthur Miller wrote this play in accordance and reference to the persecution placed upon him and many others by the committee of un-American activities. He was persecuted for his way of thinking, and this inspired him to write the play " The Crucible" to make people realise that history is being repeated. In his mind, the way he and the other communists were treated bared a great likeness to that of the "witches" of Salem and the way the Jews were treated during the holocaust. In the sixteen hundreds Salem was ruled by a theocracy so their ideas of truth and justice would have varied from ours. The puritans ideology was that if the bible says its so, it's so. Most of us are now aware that most of the bible is not to be taken literally, but symbolically. The play itself is based upon the idea of witchcraft and the outcome of hypocrisy and the drama that revolves around it. Lies are a force for destruction; it rips apart a whole community in a dramatic manner. This "game" results in death for the accused and it wouldn't be believed if it wasn't for selfish ministers out to save their status, reputation and money. The innocents are condemned to death. The question is 'How does Miller use the concept of witchcraft for dramatic effect and to expose hypocrisy?' In basic terms, I have to show how witchcraft has been used to create an exciting outcome uncovering hypocrisy. The key words in this question consist of witchcraft, hypocrisy and drama. Therefore, I must engage with the idea of hypocrisy, truth and justice throughout this piece. Witchcraft is the practices or art of witches, sorcery, involves enchantments and intercourse with evil spirits. Hypocrisy is the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess and in basic terms: an act or instance of falseness. ...read more.


The three ministers, Danforth, Hathorne and Parris differ in their ways considerably. Danforth refuses to back down or listen when he thinks he is in the right or has his own personal view on something: "you surely do not doubt my justice?" He disregards due process when it suits him. An example of this is when he says, "the pure in heart need no lawyers." Danforth is a suspicious character and is sceptical of others around him. In response to Proctors claim of his wife being pregnant, Danforth says "We have thought it too convenient to be credited." I noticed the suspicious and cynical language he chose. He can hardly believe it yet this is a man who appears to believe everything the girls tell him. I ask myself are there qualities you want in a judge? The answer is yes, you expect them to look at all evidence, all claims and all perspectives to seek justice and discover truth. This creates dramatic effect, as this isn't how you would expect a judge to react to such a claim, this isn't a quality you would want in a judge. It is hypocritical in that he is meant to be seeking truth and justice but instead, he excuses it and pushes it aside. A further example that illustrates Danforth's character is when he speaks to the girls: "Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside?" In this, I can distinguish how Danforth is so concerned with his own status and importance. He is in basic terms saying to them - don't tell me what to do! To add to this he continues to say, "Then let him submit this evidence in proper affidavit." (A legal document) I can see from this that he emphasises the importance of rules and regulations but at the cost of truth and openness. ...read more.


Thus, making him a hypocrite. The hypocrisy of the characters links in with the dramatic impact on the audience. If the audience can see this, not only is it ironic that the audience can see this and the judges who are meant to, can't, but it is also dramatic. It would engage the audience and make them want to continue to watch the play to view the outcome. All of the above analysis of the play is all of my evidence to the answer of the question 'How does Miller use the concept of witchcraft for dramatic effect and to expose hypocrisy?' I believe that I have successfully showed how all the judges, are self-contained and only feel for their self-importance. In 'The Crucible" Arthur Miller has successfully shown that the Salem society has the capacity for what started as just "dancing in the woods" to end with the deaths of innocent people. He has done this by the use of powerful and believable characterisation in a dramatic manner that had many parallels with the contemporary setting in which he was writing. He has created an atmosphere of fear and hypocrisy with an undercurrent of tension and has shown that Salem has the capacity for evil. In any society it is human flaws that cause evil and tragedy and although the Salem society has many good people within it, it is human nature at its worst that brings about its downfall. And it is this concept of witchcraft that tore apart the community; there was no sense of trust at all in the end. The audience could see the innocent but the characters could not. Hence the dramatic impact and irony of it all. For this small 'religious and well-respected' community, it brought out the true inner self within the characters, the audience could obviously acknowledge hypocrisy amongst the characters whether the characters themselves could see it within themselves or not. Ironically, Abigail ends up getting the exact opposite of what she hoped for. Proctor was hanged. ...read more.

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