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The Crucible - Describe what has happened in Act 1 and how tension and suspense is built up.

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Introduction

The Crucible Essay The play is called "The Crucible" which was written in 1953 and as it is based on a true story it is more significant. It was set in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. The play is appropriately named, as a "Crucible" is a pot in which Witches stirred and conjured spirits around. This is an important title as it gives you an intriguing idea to what the play is about. Arthur Miller wrote the play due to the McCarthy witch hunts which were occurring around the time when it was written. Miller had known about the witch hunts in Salem since his college years and decided to write a play based on the events of 1692. He studied court records of the people which had been accused and adapted his story so it had more relevant language used. The political situation in the 1950's was that McCarthy had just become senator and made a commanding speech about "communist infiltration," also at this time America was a very religious country and from then on the McCarthy witch hunts had begun. The House of Un-American Activities Committee was formed [McCarthy's group] and they had the power to do just about anything they wanted. All of this combined together probably triggered Miller to write the play which made a mockery out of the events in the 1950's and of those in 1692 in Salem. In this essay I intend to describe what has happened in Act 1. and how tension and suspense is built up. "The Crucible" was set in Salem, in 1692 which was a theocracy. Everyone believed in God so heavily, that anyone who did not was believed to be in touch with the Devil and subsequently accused of witchcraft. Obviously because of this the audience can now understand the complications and pressure the characters were under, because of the tension built up by the strict rules and laws. ...read more.

Middle

Here is one comment where he boasts of his knowledge on the supernatural, "In these books the devil stands stripped of his disguises." It demonstrates that he knows what he is doing as well. The last one of which I feel are main characters is Tituba who is from Barbados who is the first person accused of being in touch with the Devil. At first she denies being in touch with the Devil but then later admits, "I don't compact with the Devil." She insists on her innocence but is beaten that badly she changes her plea so she doesn't die. "No, No, Sir, don't hang Tituba! I tell him! I don't desire to work for him sir!" This reveals that she is easily targeted by others because of her race and that she was force to admit to a crime she didn't commit so she won't be hanged. She also repeats her self a lot due to the language difficulties and Miller has used this to good effect by using double negatives, "I never saw no devil." Other characters include Susannah who is one of the girls and is very inquisitive, but is easily forced to do things against her will, "But he bid me tell you that you might look at unnatural things for the cause of it." This informs us of her weak character and that she is easily pushed around. Secondly, Mrs Putnam who is still uneasy at her children dying when they were only a few days old and everyone feels uncomfortable around her as she constantly mention children, a good exemplar of this is when she blurts out "My babies blood." She cries this whilst Abigail reveals that Tituba forced her to drink chicken blood. When Betty is ill Mrs Putnam also claims, "I'd not call it sick; the Devil's touch is heavier than sick." This confirms that she jumps to conclusions without actually considering the other options and that she also fears the supernatural by blaming it just to stir things up. ...read more.

Conclusion

All of this aids Miller's play in building up tension and suspense. An additional theme is that everyone will do their utmost to protect their names in the village. Abby is the first to say that her name is good in the village when she is linked with the Devil. Towards the end of act 1. when everyone is accusing each other in order to save their own name. A good example of this is when Proctor fails to sign a document admitting that he was involved in Witchcraft just so his name will not be ruined in the village as he declares that "I can not live without my name!" This shows that he is willing to die for his reputation as without that he has nothing to live for. Fear is apparent throughout as Abby often spoke fearfully around her Uncle Parris and Mary Warren who is Proctor's servant is scared of John as when he entered the room her voice went timid and she jumped out of fright as it says in the narrator's notes. This shows John's physical presence is quite daunting. Tituba also admits to Witchcraft as she is scared of being hanged and at the end when there is a crescendo of fear. My conclusion is that Arthur Miller has successfully and effectively written a play built around suspense and tension and kept the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the duration of the play due to it's confusing but historically accurate storyline. He has very cleverly used Salem to mock the current political state but at the same time make it exciting and truthful as these events did really happen! The characters have been well used and how one dance in the woods can lead to such appalling consequences really amazes the audience. Thus shows that society hasn't changed over time. Finally the contrast between Good and Evil have been very well used in a society ruled by religion. ...read more.

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