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The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Crucible. Arthur Miller's Crucible is set in the deeply religious society of Salem in 1692. When the McCarthyism incident arose in America in the 1950's, Miller decided to write an allegory that would draw parallels between what was happening then and what was happening in the 1950's. the trumped-up witch hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts, deteriorated the rational, and emotional stability of its citizens. This exploited populations weakest qualities and insecurities. The obvious breakdown in Salem's social order led to the tragedy which saw twenty innocent people hung on the accusation of witchcraft. Arthur Miller, author of The Crucible, used hysteria to introduce personality flaws in venerable characters. A ridged social system, fear and confusion were evident conditions that became prevalent before and during the witch trials. These conditions only contributed to the tragedy in Salem. The isolation of the Puritan society created a rigid social system that did not allow for any variation in lifestyle. The society of Salem was fixed around the idea that life is to be lived serving God, whether it be working in the fields or going to church at every opportunity. Salem's attitude to leisure and free time would be considered somewhat different to modern day preferences. They would not have permitted reading, unless the words read about God and prayer against enjoyment such as visiting the theatre. Such Christians did not even celebrate Christmas, as a break from work would be just another opportunity to concentrate on prayer. Salem was afraid that if the work routine were broken so would be Salem's morals of keeping the place from 'spoiling'. Looking closely at the text in The Crucible we can explore how Arthur Miller uses language and dramatic devices to emphasise the importance of religion to the community of Salem. Because religious language is used in almost every conversation, be this at home, during the trials or even in a simple chat towards one another, this shows how Salem is surrounded by religion and it is a part of everyday life, but some people use it a lot more often then others and for several reasons. ...read more.

Middle

Apart from showing his devote love for his wife Elizabeth this tells us that something so great as religion and that people will now refer to him as a lecher, can not stand between his love for Elizabeth. Throughout the play the contrast between light and dark is a prominent feature. In the footnote at the begging of act one Miller has used the image of light "There is a narrow window at the left. Through it's leaded pains the morning sunlight streams. A candle still burns near the bed... The room gives of an air of clean spare ness." This symbolizes that everything is alright, there are no bad things happening. Light throughout the play is used to symbolize good. As the story line continues the atmosphere and even the scenes themselves become darker and more sinister, even the weather becomes more glum and depressing. Dark is used throughout the play to symbolize bad. For example, the courtroom is always dark, there are no open windows and no candles. In some cases certain characters bring light into a scene that was dark, like John Proctor. But when he is accused of witchcraft the light that accompanies him became a lot dimmer. Dramatic devices are used constantly throughout the play. They are apparent in a key scene of the play, which we could call the 'yellow bird' scene in Act Three. Abigail uses her strength over the girls to create an imaginary bird, which she claims is Mercy's spirit trying to attack her face, of course this is not true. Proctor frantically tries to explain to Judge Danforth that this is all pretence. 'Lies, lies' he says. This is an example of dramatic irony because we, the audience, are much more aware that Proctor at this point in the play, that it is these such lies that are going to get him hanged. The fact that those who lie are saved and Proctor, whose conscience finally won't allow him to lie, is hanged, is ...read more.

Conclusion

I think Arthur Miller is trying to make us think about morality, group mentality, Puritanism, good/bad and self-interest. The play includes interesting messages about how reasonable individuals can become completely irrational and get carried away when they become part of a mob. It is also interesting to see how different relationships develop as the plot unfolds. For example, the relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor goes through almost unrecognizable changes. At the beginning of the play we see their relationship very frosty and cold. On the first introduction of the two characters together this coldness is portrayed to us with Proctor's declaration of his only intent to please Elizabeth and Elizabeth's cold acceptance. However at the end of act four we hear the warm and passionate exchange between the two characters as Elizabeth opens her heart to John and although not wishing for him to testify to Witchcraft desperately wanting him to live so he could bring up there unborn baby together. We can see and sympathies with how each of the relationships are being affected by the pressure they are being put under. This, as with the characteristics of the characters, allows us to become even more involved in the plot. The play is deliberately complex and multi-faceted, and not in plain simple black and white. In my opinion everyone's to blame, If one person would have seen sense or not added to problem or admitted it was a hoax it would have never happened. If Abigail had not added to the story it would not have happened. If Judge Danforth had not of been so single-minded he would have seen through straight through Abigail's sweet and innocent routine, and so on. But at the end as in many situations in our own lives no one is completely to blame. This is the whole point of Miller's play: that in a society where there is a witch hunt going on false accusations are made and the innocent are bound to suffer. Naomi Fligg The Crucible. Page 1 of 9 ...read more.

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