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The Crucible - How does Arthur Miller create and sustain an atmosphere of tension and excitement in Act 3 of the play?

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Introduction

The Crucible How does Arthur Miller create and sustain an atmosphere of tension and excitement in Act 3 of the play? He does this by a series of introducing new information, issues and causing uproar between sets of characters. The scene opens with an already built up tension from the end of Scene 2 where Elizabeth had been taken away by the court for witchcraft. The stage is empty and all that can be seen is a clear courtroom and all that can be heard is the voice of Hathorne, Martha Corey, Giles and Danforth. As the audience are settling down from the interval from the end of Scene 2 their attention is immediately grabbed by the eerie settings and the lack of people on the stage, then suddenly the door is pushed open and the characters Giles and Herrick enter partly filling the stage easing any worries the audience may have had from before. Giles, an elderly but honest farmer is being held and forced into the vestry by Herrick, Hale then enters and sees the aggravation that this is causing Giles and tells both of them to be calm. Giles then reveals that his wife is to be hanged; this signals that an argument is to come between some of the characters. ...read more.

Middle

truth to Danforth but then some of the girls, the others weren't in court, arrived and Mary falls back into short answers in fear. Abigail had a hold over the girls and lied to Danforth saying that Elizabeth had always kept poppets to which John declared was untrue sot hen Proctor and Danforth have another long convosation about Mary and the other girls doings. Danforth then tells Mary that if she really was faking it then to fake it for him right there, she could not and as a result the tension builds because the audience and Proctor all wondering what will happen now. Abby breaks it up and starts to fake being witched by Mary, the other girls follow, Mary gets scared and tries to run out the court to which John gets extremely angry and grabs Abby and calls her a whore many times. Danforth asks him to explain his reasons for calling her this to which he replies, "I have known her". The tension is released and this is the point where John shows he is willing to blacken his name and destroy his reputation to prove that Abigail and the girls were all lying. John is clearly broken by his words and realises fully the extent of what he has done and how damaging they are. ...read more.

Conclusion

People were encouraged to inform on those they suspected which may be where Miller got the idea of Abigail from as he had seen what rumours and gossip could do as he was one of the accused in the McCarthy trials. Miller chose the Salem Witch trials to put his play into the context of because like the McCarthy it was a true event that happened in American history. In Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century the in habitants very much believed in the devil and knew of his powers so thought that all witchcraft should be hunted out. They were puritans, which meant that none of their habits and activities were very strict and no entertainment was permitted. Miller did a lot of research into the inhabitants of Salem then so many of the characters are based on real people their actions however and words were not spoken as Miller made the people his own in the play. Miller writes Act 3 very cleverly so that the audience know information that the judges do not, this is a way of making the tension and intrigue in the crowd rise. This form of audience participation is used often by great play writers such as Shakespeare even though their styles are completely different it still has the same effect and makes their plays interesting and exciting for all the members of the audience. Sarah Powell 10D English Coursework 01/05/2007 ...read more.

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