How is act 3 of The Crucible Dramatically Effective?
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How is act 3 of The Crucible Dramatically Effective? Since 1938 an organisation called the House Un-American Activities Committee had been in existence in America. This had the power to investigate any movement or person who apparently threatened the safety of the state. Under the chairmanship of Senator Joseph McCarthy, this committee became almost paranoid in its searching out of communist sympathisers amongst the American people in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1956, when the power of the committee was waning, Arthur Miller (The playwright) was summoned to appear before it. A pile of petitions with his signature was produced and he was asked to confess to signing his name. The activities of the Committee began to be linked in Miller's mind with witchcraft trials which had taken place in the American town of Salem two centuries before. For example the committee often had in its possession lists of people attending various communist meetings, and yet it still wanted the witnesses to name names. Miller saw these public confessions as parallel with the naming of names at Salem in 1692. In the15th century the Catholic Church began to take witchcraft seriously, and started to really crack down on its practice.
"Mary Warren, do you witch her? I say to you, do you send your spirit out?" Danforth, Act 3, Page 87 When Danforth asks her this question Mary snaps and pushes herself away from Proctor. "Let me go Mr Proctor, I cannot, I cannot -" Mary Warren, Act 3, page 88 This is when Mary's delicate relationship with Proctor breaks down and she will no longer cover for him and put herself at risk from being accused by the rest of the girls. Abigail : (Looking about the air, clasping her arms about her as though cold): I - I know not. A wind, a cold wind, has come. (Her eyes fall on Mary Warren.) Mary : (Terrified, pleading): Abby! Mercy : (Shivering): Your Honour, I freeze! Proctor : They're pretending! Hathorne : (Touching Abigail's hand): She is cold Your Honour, touch her! Mercy : (Through chattered teeth ): Mary, Do you send this shadow on me? Act 3, Page 87 This is when the girls first start to turn on Mary, she is a very fragile person and when they start to turn on her she doesn't know what to do. She was used to pointing the finger of accusation not having it pointed at her and on her own she can't cope.
Act 3 is relevant to the play as a whole because it is the Act where a lot of important things happen and it is the most dramatic, with a lot of tension and anger between different characters. It is what the first two acts have been building up to and you could say it is the climax of the whole play. When Arthur Miller wrote the play, "The Crucible" in 1953 the contemporary audience could relate to the play due to the media coverage that was occurring at the time. This era was concerned with the political movement of communism; the McCarthy trials. The contemporary audience saw Miller's play as relevant because of the effects of mass hysteria- the destruction of the community in Salem. Miller felt that the play had relevance although he didn't write it for that. The reason why the crucible is still so widely liked even though the witch trials are long gone is because it demonstrates the terrible effects of mass hysteria and what it can do to normally rational people. The story reminds its readers of an ugly blemish on human history. It reminds us that man is not perfect, and that we can make mistakes. However, even with these mistakes, we can cleanse ourselves and purify ourselves by making right what is wrong.
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