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The Crucible - How does Arthur Miller creates a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act 2?

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Introduction

How does Arthur Miller creates a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act 2? Arthur Miller's play The Crucible is set in Salem in 1692. At that time there was a lot of tension, as many people were being accused of witchcraft and being against G-d. In the play Miller shows how the accusations affected everyone in Salem. Miller creates a sense of tension by setting the scene in a "low, dark room." This room is quiet and gloomy as very little light is getting in. Miller does this to create an atmosphere which is unhappy and depressing. The tension is already high as the scene before ended with satanic accusations. The room is bare, which is unwelcoming, and it seems unlived in as nothing is out of place. Miller uses the scenery to bring atmosphere to the stage before the characters enter, he also uses the bareness to get the audience to focus purely on the actors and the dialogue. ...read more.

Middle

When Elizabeth and John converse they begin politely as if they are trying to be nice, but both characters seem tense when they are talking. John addresses his wife as "Elizabeth" when being affectionate, but this changes to "woman" as the tension rises. Elizabeth appears to be suspicious of John, we see this when John tells Elizabeth that he was alone with Abigail. This builds up most of the tension in the scene. Miller has done this to show how upset the character is. We can see this in the way Miller makes the character speak. "You where alone with her?" The action in this scene is minimal, Miller does this so the audience focuses on what Elizabeth and John are saying, rather than what they are doing. The movements they make are also there to show a change in the characters emotion, for instance when John stands to kiss Elizabeth; "he gets up goes to her and kisses her". ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth is portrayed as a strong character which is unusual for this time. Miller makes her this way in order to create tension between John and Elizabeth. John is shown as a deceiver, as he is in the dominant of the two and keeps secrets from Elizabeth. We see proof of this when he adds more salt to the food that she had prepared earlier, without her knowledge, and later compliments her, "it's well seasoned". This is an empty complement. He further expresses his dominance by ordering her around "Woman. I'll not have your suspicion anymore". Men of this period where at a higher position in society they where seen to be strong and forceful, this is why John tries to press his dominance on her. Miller draws attention to this side of his character in order to heighten the sense of conflict between them. In The Crucible Miller wanted to create a sense of tension and conflict. He successfully used the beginning of act 2 to achieve this by clever use of lighting, sparse scenery, characterisation and dialogue. ...read more.

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