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'The Crucible' Explore how Miller dramatises the conflicts within John Proctor

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Introduction

C20th Drama Explore how Miller dramatises the conflicts within John Proctor and presents him as a good man, despite his failings. How does Miller make him dramatically effective for an audience? Refer to Act two and Act four. Miller's purpose through writing 'The Crucible' was to express his own views on what was happening in America at the time in 1953 - McCarthyism, a period of intense anticommunism. Miller uses the character of John Proctor to put across his views. He is interested in the character who does not allow himself to be caught up in hysteria, but thinks for himself and stands up for his values. Miller wants to teach us, his audience, about social awareness with deep insights into personal weaknesses through his characters. Miller also wants to teach us the important moral lessons about human nature of the notion of goodness. Miller's play deals with difficult and controversial issues making the audience think about the pleasant and unpleasant experiences of humans and relating them to today's modern world. When writing 'The Crucible' Miller was influenced partly by witchcraft. For many hundreds of years there was a belief in witchcraft throughout Europe. This belief in witchcraft persisted among the English colonists in America. In 1692 there was an outbreak of accusations of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, which lead to twenty innocent people executed. In the play John Proctor was one of the twenty innocent people executed. Of those women accused many were old women with knowledge of herbal medicine or other folk remedies, an example of a character with this description would be Rebecca Nurse, who was hanged with John Proctor in the dramatic last scene. ...read more.

Middle

This allows Miller to develop this relationship throughout the play. It also shows us that Proctor is willing to isolate himself from the church in order to demonstrate his views. It is this that brings disapproval from others and gives his enemies a reason for charging him with witchcraft. A performer playing the character of John Proctor here should stand up straight and speak with confidence as he has strong beliefs. Further on in Act two we again see Proctor showing his devotion and awareness of Elizabeth and does all he can in his power to prevent her from being treated inadequately. When Reverend Hale is questioning the couple, he asks Proctor to recite the Ten Commandments and as he does so, he fails to recite the one scorning adultery. Elizabeth prompts him and he immediately becomes guilty and uneasy for his breach in Christianity and loyalty to his wife. Miller's stage directions read [As though a secret arrow had pained his heart]. This shows us, the audience that Proctor is guilty and fearful for forgetting to recite the commandment forbidding adultery. Towards the end of Act two Proctor once more tries to protect Elizabeth. When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch and she is taken away, Proctor shouts, 'I will not have her chained!' This shows the audience that Proctor is worried about Elizabeth and wants to save her from harm. The actor playing Proctor here should be shouting loudly and upset and try and run after Elizabeth to save her. Towards the end of Act two we the audience start to respect Proctor more as we see how hard he is trying to mend the relationship between him Elizabeth and infuse love into their relationship. ...read more.

Conclusion

Now Proctor is full of self-pride, he finds it easier to forgive himself for lechery and we are shown this in the stage direction [he has lifted her, and kisses her now with great passion]. This shows us how he has forgiven himself and he now wants Elizabeth to forgive him. When walking to the gallows to meet his death an actor portraying Proctor should be walking with confidence head up and standing up straight, they should also use very bold movements and gestures. These movements, gestures and posture will allow the actor to show Proctor's pride and self-respect effectively. At the end of the play Elizabeth cries, 'He have goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!' We the audience are now full of admiration and respect for Proctor at the end of Act four and have forgiven him for his previous mistakes. By the end of the play through Miller's notions of goodness through Proctor we have learnt that everyone makes mistakes and by forgiving ourselves, others will forgive us too. Miller also teaches us that throughout troubled times we should remain strong. We also learn that particular people or groups of people can be depicted negatively and suffer for the actions of a few. As in the play the village of Salem suffered because of the actions of the English colonists. This can be related to McCarthyism as the actions of Joseph McCarthy lead people against Communists or ex-Communists and so they suffered. We can also relate this to our modern society; an example of this would be Islamaphobia, resulting from a few people causing the devastating destruction from 9/11. Another example would be anti-Irish feeling following years of terrorism caused by the IRA. Claire Fooks 10y ...read more.

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