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'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller - Discuss the appeal of 'The Crucible' to its audience.

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Introduction

English Literature Coursework: 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller Discuss the appeal of 'The Crucible' to its audience 'The Crucible' is a 20th century play that focuses on the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692. These events led to mass hysteria over the persecution of those who, allegedly, participated in acts of incantation. Over-exaggeration, emotion, tautness, suspense and the eradication of characters (due to their alleged involvement in witchcraft) are the main themes of the play throughout the four volatile scenes of 'The Crucible'. The audience observing would be enticed by the mood swings of characters and their persecution for such crimes in the theocratic village, where interrogated citizens in the dense society were forced to name other possible witches. If they failed to produce names of others, they would be hanged ruthlessly. The inhabitants of Salem believed in witches and the Devil and that the Bible had instructed them that witches must be hanged. A feeling of inequity is sensed here. The events of the play, first performed in England in 1954, are analogous to the McCarthy era in the USA , where anyone suspected of criticising the government or its direction was to be brought before a court to respond to the charge of 'Un-American Activities'. ...read more.

Middle

The persecution of various wives in the village over allegations of witchcraft holds a clamorous atmosphere, in contrast to the muted tone of the interrogation of the innocent in court (over accusations of casting spells with the Devil). At the end of Act One, the tempo of the character's speeches increases as the girls accuse others of dancing with the Devil, screaming and bellowing (Betty): I saw Alice Barrow with the Devil! (Hale): Let the marshal bring irons! (Abigail): I saw Goody Hawkins with the Devil! (Betty): I saw Goody Hibber with the Devil! (Abigail): I saw Goody Booth with the Devil! This is a fierce scene as the girls are desperate to accuse alleged offenders of witchcraft, squealing so they are heard well. The repetition of exclamation marks mimics a chant by the girls. This may intimidate the attendees but also grips them as they sense a climax to the scene. The curtain falling leaves the audience with an anticlimax but eagerly anticipating the scene to follow. Miller uses characterisation in the play to affect the appearance and personality of a character. This may appeal to the audience as the individuals on stage seem more stereotypical but also add realism to the play. The girls in the play are valets and specialized in domestic drudgery, for example Mary Warren was John Proctor's servant. ...read more.

Conclusion

they were punished fairly, according to moral laws, and were executed if others felt they represented a threat to the community, like witches. The American society in 1950s was afraid of communism. The public would ostracize a communist, which is linked to Salem because their society was afraid of witchcraft and this shows that both communities were concerned about the welfare of their state. Both societies were determined to act harshly on individuals who were not acting as their government expected them to, such as involvement in witchery. Though the play itself has very few examples of symbolism beyond typical witchcraft symbols (rats, toads, and bats), the entire play is meant to be symbolic, with its witch trials standing in for the anti-Communist "witch-hunts" of the 1950s. Miller's appeal for an audience of his time would be related to the controversial message that McCarthyism was unfair prosecution of the innocent. An audience in today' society would be interested in historical events such as witchcraft, as they may be enthralled to find out how people lived in the late 17th century in America. The society and cultural changes that have taken place since this time period have transformed people's lives drastically. This may attract an audience who are interested in these changes, such as punishment and general welfare. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Sean Flynn 10 KO ...read more.

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