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The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Introduction

The Crucible by Arthur Miller The Crucible emerged from a true story which makes the play more convincing. It was based on the Salem, Massachusetts Witch Trial in 1629. At the time people were extremely religious and believed in witchcraft and devilry. It was strictly forbidden for people to dance, sing, and laugh and if they were discovered doing these activities, they were accused of witchcraft and many were to die of this. Miller decided to write a play which would heighten America's awareness of the impending of the communist in the 1950's. It is important for the audience to understand the historical background, and understand what living in Salem, Massachusetts was like in the 17th Century. The people of Salem were Puritans- descendents of the Pilgrim Father, who arrived in America from England in 1960 because they wanted a stricter way of life with regard to their religion. Their lives consisted of working, eating, sleeping and praying. Any kind of enjoyment was prohibited. This meant that singing and dancing was forbidden and seen as an interaction with the devil. People of Salem believed in witchcraft, and in 1692, many people were accused and hanged because of this. People incriminated each other, both neighbours and friends. This shows that although on the surface, society appears united, cracks were beginning to emerge. In the 1950's there was a modern day witch hunt in America. ...read more.

Middle

wicked air." There is clearly an unspoken bond between them. However, John is curious about the mischief that Reverend Parris might be brewing. Abigail, on the other hand, is implying that he has come to see her, "you came five miles to see a flying girl? I know you better." This suggests how disturbed Abigail is, because always thinking about herself and not other people. She said that she was waiting for him every night, hoping that he will have sympathy for her, but, when Proctor moves "her firmly out of his path" she becomes angry. Stage direction reveals how angry Abigail is by saying "she can't believe it". She thinks that Proctor is only "sportin'" with her. So far, Abigail has been seen as potentially violent and therefore dangerous. Her coarse references to Proctor's passionate approaches- "I have a sense for heart", "clutched my back" and "sweating like a stallion"- confirms the animal attraction she finds in him. Tension rises when Abigail mentions that he was cheating on wife. Proctor "angered- at him self as well" shouts that she, Abigail, will speak "nothing of Elizabeth!" This incident with Abigail displays not only annoyance but the emerging dislike to her. Rebecca Nurse is sympathetic to Betty's illness, and the plea for quiet provides a strong contrast to the hectic action which has surrounded the girls. The tension is decreased as everyone quietens down. ...read more.

Conclusion

The tension is broken, the last part is highly dramatic, and the act finishes with the "ecstatic cries" of the girls. The words have qualities that are natural to the time in which Miller 'set' his play although not applicable to the present day. The characters appear to have respect and dignity due to the langue used a derivation of English. Their titles, "Goody" suggest to us a 'distance' in relationships which we are not familiar to us today. Other ways of speaking 'I am thirty-three time in court in my life', are used by judge and peasants alike. All this demonstrates another way of life-in other era. The use of metaphors "sweating like a stallion", the readers would expect from people whose daily readings was the Bible. With this knowledge, the language used, "I have made a bell of my honour" does not sound out of context for the time. It is the language which heightens tension and importance throughout and experiences the important themes in the play which Miller is trying to express throughout. This is powerful drama which shows the break down of a society. The Act ends in a dramatic fashion contrasting with the beginning which was quieter and slower. The act is filled with intense conflict and much tension. The act has unity of place as it all happened in Parris's home. The background and characters are revealed through the whole prose commentary, dialogue, and actions. Miller uses the Salem Witch Hunt as his way of commenting on McCarthyism in the 1950's, his own time. ...read more.

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