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The Crucible.

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Introduction

In the year 1692, in the small Massachusetts village of Salem, some village girls fell ill, falling victim to hallucinations and strange, unexplainable behaviour. In the Puritan New England, startling incidents were often blamed on the devil. Soon the girls, and then other residents of Salem, began to accuse other villagers of associating with the devil. The Massachusetts government and judicial system, heavily influenced by religion, rolled into action. Within a few weeks, dozens of people were in jail on charges of witchcraft. By the time the 'craze' had finished, in late August 1692, nineteen people had been condemned and hanged for witchcraft. The Crucible is set in a village. Here there is no room for variance from social normality, because a non- conformist private life in these times acted as a threat not only to the public but also to God and religion. Danforth says in Act III, "a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it." In the Crucible hysteria is a major theme. It can participate in ripping apart a community. Hysteria overcomes logic and lets people to believe that their neighbours are committing strange and unbelievable crimes-involving the devil, killing babies, and making love potions. The most obvious case is Abigail, who uses the situation to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft and have her sent to jail. ...read more.

Middle

For my coursework I chose to do the beginning of Act 1. As the play opens, Reverend Parris kneels, praying in front of Betty's bed. Parris is a strict man suffering from paranoia. Betty Parris lies in a motionless, unresponsive way. Parris has sent for Reverend John Hale of Beverly, a specialist on witchcraft, to decide whether Betty is bewitched. Parris shouts at his niece, Abigail Williams, because he discovered her, Betty, and several other girls dancing in the forest in the middle of the night with his slave, Tituba. Tituba was chanting and waving her arms, dancing, over a fire and Parris thought he spotted someone running naked through the trees. The word that Betty is the victim of witchcraft is spreading in Salem, and a crowd has gathered outside Parris's house. Abigail denied that she and the girls engaged in witchcraft. She testifies that Betty simply fainted from shock when her father caught them dancing. Parris is worrying that his enemies will use this to drive him out of his job. Elizabeth Proctor, a local woman who once employed Abigail at her home but fired her, due to her affair with Elizabeth's husband, had stopped attending church regularly. There are rumours that Elizabeth does not want to sit that close to Abigail. ...read more.

Conclusion

The characters in The Crucible are either developing, as are John, Elizabeth and Hale, or they are representative. Parris, Putnam and Giles Corey represent the struggles between each other and for land, social respect and power which were present in Salem. For a priest, the former businessman Parris is too concerned about material issues and his reputation, while Giles Corey has conflicts with almost everyone in the village. But in contrast to most of the other villagers he is open and direct. Rebecca is the "good soul" of the village, and seems to be the only flawless character in the whole play. Danforth and especially Hathorne symbolise authority. Structurally, every scene has its own story and the story could be understood without the previous acts. The first and second are explanations, the third is action-oriented and provides the strongest climax, while the fourth the conclusion, and also a tragedy in itself. As every act before it has its own climax (the accusations, the arrest of Elizabeth, the show played by the girls to break Mary Warren, the struggle in Proctor whether to give away his confession). Every act starts very slowly and without much action and provides a description (the situation of the Proctor's, the ongoing of the trials, the situation of the jailed Proctor's) in itself, then getting more intense. Emily Kalbag 'The crucible' Draft.04/05/2007 ...read more.

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