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Show how Miller delivers tension and conflict during the opening scene of The Crucible.

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Introduction

Liam Barber Mrs. Marland GCSE Coursework Post 1914 Drama Act two opens with a scene of great contrast to the climax at the end of Act one where the curtain falls on "their ecstatic cries". In Act two, we begin to learn the relationship between John and Elizabeth in more detail. Miller creates a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth by using detailed stage directions to communicate to the audience how the actors are feeling and their thought tracks through their movement on stage and their facial expressions. The tension during Act two is made even more dramatic by contrasting with the coldness and quietness at the start of Act two. At the beginning of Act two, Miller has purposely included very detailed stage directions about how Proctor's house should appear on stage. Firstly, Proctor's common room is "low, dark and rather long" which although is common for a Puritan living room, it suggest an unpleasant atmosphere within the household. "As the curtain rises, the room is empty" is also included within the opening set of stage directions. The room is empty and still which again creates a contrast to the hysteria of Betty and Abigail's accusations of witchcraft and the heated argument between John and Elizabeth. One reason for Miller to create this contrast could be that he wanted to make the peaceful start to Act two make the ending of Act one and the argument between John and Elizabeth seem more dramatic and to make parts of Act two with John and Elizabeth seem more controversial. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth only "receives" the kiss, which could tell the audience that Elizabeth had not fully forgiven John, she does not reject the kiss completely which again shows that she does not want to create friction between herself and John. Miller includes this kiss because it gives the audience a clear message about the state of John and Elizabeth's relationship and if John's efforts to please Elizabeth have worked. John mentions to Elizabeth, "Cider?" and "You ought to bring some flowers into the house." John is trying to gently remind Elizabeth of her duties as a Puritan wife. She has forgotten but he does not want to seem as if he is ordering her about. John's gentleness could suggest that he is afraid that all of the building tension between himself and Elizabeth could explode and become an argument. Elizabeth's reaction is complete embarrassment because they are both simple duties for a Puritan wife and Elizabeth has forgotten both of them. Elizabeth seems to be trying to please John too much which has resorted to her becoming flustered. Something is still lingering in Elizabeth's mind which is either the affair or the accusations of witchcraft in Salem. The audience notice that Elizabeth is trying to please John too much and it could suggest that they are both trying too hard, which creates and awkward atmosphere is the room. As Act two progresses, "Her back is turned to him. ...read more.

Conclusion

John says, "Spare me! You forgive nothin' and forget nothin'. Learn charity, woman." This line has been included by Miller because it tells the audience John's exact feelings about how Elizabeth is behaving around John. It also tells the audience some extra details about Elizabeth's personality. "You forgive nothin' and you forget nothin'." This line tells the audience the nature of Elizabeth and one of the reasons that John is so frustrated with her. Elizabeth is not a very forgiving character and this is made more obvious as she also does not have any trust in John since the affair. John is telling Elizabeth to show him some consideration by having some trust in him when he says "spare me". As the Act progresses, John and Elizabeth's argument is stopped as Mary enters with a poppet for Elizabeth. John lets some of this anger out on Mary as she walks in. When John gets mad at Mary, she tells him how she saved Elizabeth's life, as her name was mentioned in court. Towards the end of Act four, John decides that he will confess himself, however, refuses to sign the confession that Hale produces as he does not want to tarnish his good name for his children. Danforth rejects John's confession without him signing it, and orders for John to be hanged. Hale begs Elizabeth to change John's mind and sign the confession, but Elizabeth claims that John wants to keep his good name, and nobody should take that. ...read more.

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