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In what ways does Arthur Miller create dramatic tension in "The Crucible"?

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In what ways does Arthur Miller create dramatic tension in "The Crucible"? After seeing performances of Millers other plays (All my sons), it is clear that he uses dramatic tension to great effect, but by reading "The Crucible" we can begin to understand how he creates this tension. Like many other Authors and playwrights Miller uses his writing skills to get his point across about the current political situation. In this case the McCarthy 'Witch Hunt' in 1950's modern America, Miller himself was accused of being sympathetic to communists which is why we believe in " the crucible" (set in the Salem, Massachusetts witch hunts of 1692) the character Proctor is Miller himself. Act one at the very beginning of the text is extremely tense as The audience watch reverend Parris sob as his daughter lies in bed seemingly unconscious. We initially see that Parris is extremely worried about his daughter, this is made obvious when he shouts at his slave Tituba who merely comes to see how Betty, Parris' daughter is. He shuts her out to have his thoughts to himself but shortly after his niece enters with Susanna (sent by the doctor) ...read more.


A poppet (doll) in Act Two calls the suspicion and tension to the door of Goody Proctor (Mrs Proctor). The poppet is found on the mantelpiece with a pin through it. Goody proctor is accused of cursing Abigail through this 'Voodoo doll'. The tension is built up again by the hysteria of the characters, as Cheever finds "A needle! Herrick, Herrick, it is a needle!" The use of repetition and alliteration in this line, helps to build up the tension. I think Miller uses this needle to symbolise the suspicion thrust into the society by their own interpretation of the bible. As the audience realise this symbolism (which continues throughout the play) it adds extra depth and meaning to the performance making the play much more engaging. This is not a society where the phrase 'Innocent until proven guilty' applies, the blame is suddenly moves to Mary. The stage directions tell us that they all think she is guilty "watching Mary Warren closely" than the accusation is announced "Mary-you charge a cold and cruel murder on Abigail" The alliteration in this line has a profound effect, it is extremely sharp with a cold ring to it. ...read more.


It is enough" the repetition of the word God in this line allows you to understand how devoted the residents of this small town are and backs up Proctor's point. As a last resort Parris and Hale ask Proctor to confess, Proctor does so but as a last stand to his beliefs he rips the paper into pieces the tension here is increasingly moving as each of the characters make their views known Parris shouts "(hysterically, as though the tearing paper were his life) Proctor, Proctor!" Hale similarly "man, you will hang! You cannot!" Proctor speaks to his wife before heading willingly to the gallows. A drum roll starts and continues while Elizabeth "supporting herself against collapse" gives us miller's thoughts on people discriminated against for being communists it seems Miller think they were right to stand up for what they believe in no matter the costs " he have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!" Again the emotive use of god adds power to this statement. As is Miller's style the play ends in a cacophony of light and sound "the final drum roll crashes" leaving the audience with a question have I lied to get out of a situation or do I stand up for what I believe in? I hope most leave the theatre thinking the latter. English Coursework 9th January 2003 Stephanie Muzzall 11I ...read more.

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