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The Crucible - How does Arthur Miller create Tension in Act 3?

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Introduction

The Crucible How does Arthur Miller create Tension in Act 3? The Crucible was written in 1967 by Arthur Miller. It is set in the village of Salem in 1692 and the plot revolves around the famous Salem witch trials. This was when dozens of people in Salem were being accused of being in compact with the devil, they were then tried and most of them hung. In Acts 1 and 2 the audience sees the story unfold as the young girls of the village begin to accuse people of witchcraft. The girls realise the power they are wielding and start to use the situation to their own advantage. Also in the first two acts the audience is made aware of the past affair between John Proctor and Abigail. At the end of Act 2, in a desperate attempt to win John back, Abigail accuses his wife Elizabeth of witchcraft. Elizabeth is taken away to await her trial in jail. In Act 3 the audience watches as John puts his reputation on the line to save his wife from the gallows, and to show the young girls for the liars they really are. The playwright Arthur Miller creates tension in Act 3 through his use of stage directions, body language, portrayal of characters' emotions, facial expressions and language. ...read more.

Middle

From these facial expressions the audience is made aware of the characters' feelings, often leading to tension and apprehension. The stage directions in The Crucible also include the tone of voice that each character should use to say their lines. In Act 3 some tones of voice cause suspense because they show how the character is feeling. This varies throughout the Act, sometimes angry and at other times quiet, depending on the character. A good example of how tone of voice clearly portrays emotion is near the start of the Act as Giles Corey attempts to clear his wife's name. Through this set of stage directions we see how he slowly breaks down as he loses hope, "beginning to plead...beginning to weep...through helpless sobs." This tone of voice shows Giles' desperation. The way that characters interact with each other creates tension because the actions they use towards each other gives hints as to their past history and any hidden secrets, for example John Proctor and Abigail's affair. An example of how characters reactions to each other creates suspense is, "Without warning or hesitation, Proctor leaps for Abigail and, grabbing her by the hair pulls her to her feet." This comes after Abigail has accused Proctor of witchery and just before Proctor tells the court about their affair. ...read more.

Conclusion

A further way in which the playwright creates tension through his use of language is that the characters repeat some lines. The repeated phrases are mostly shouted, and they are some of the most important lines in the scene, such as, "I am with God, I am with God" and "How do you call heaven? Whore! Whore!" These phrases are repeated so the audience acknowledges them and remembers them. This causes tension because the audience realise the significance to the play as a whole. The Crucible is named after a small dish used in science for heating and purifying metals. It is an appropriate title for this play because the village is purified from witchcraft. Also at the end of Act 4 when John Proctor is hung he has come through a hard time, and his spirit is purified because he has kept to the truth and his beliefs. The whole message of this play is one of small town prejudice and injustice. This prejudice leads to certain people being falsely accused, and lots of innocent people are then hung. The injustice of these killings leads to tension and unease in the village of Salem. Arthur Miller uses his talent and techniques as a playwright to successfully put across this tension to the audience, particularly in Act 3 of this 4 Act play. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alice Palmer 20th Century Drama Coursework May/June 2002 ...read more.

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