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The Crucible - How does Miller create a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act 2? Why is this scene significant in the play as a whole?

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Introduction

The Crucible How does Miller create a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act 2? Why is this scene significant in the play as a whole? The Crucible is set in 1692 and is based upon the outbreak of accusations in Salem, Massachusetts. Arthur Miller wrote the play using the 17th-century case of witch trials (and fictionalising it) to comment on a 20th-century phenomenon-the hunting of communists as if they were witches. In 17th century Salem the inhabitant's feared witchcraft, like America feared communism, both were exaggerated and both communities overreacted to an insignificant threat to their stability of life. Arthur Miller had always had a personal interest in the Salem Witch trials, but at the time he was writing the play, America was in the middle of the McCarthy political "Witch Hunt". Miller himself was called up before a committee for signing petitions, and he began to notice many similarities between the two trials, such as the naming of names and public confessions. This has meant that his play is seen as a political parable Miller effectively creates a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the beginning of Act two. ...read more.

Middle

It is ironic that John complimented her on the seasoning on the rabbit, since he seasoned it himself; this in particular highlights the conflict between them. At first glance the proctor household appears homely, welcoming and peaceful. John returns home to work and finds his supper ready, cooked for him by his wife who has just finished singing their children to sleep. However this is all very misleading, the conflict between the proctors is highlighted at the very start of act two with the use of monosyllabic sentences from Elizabeth in reply to Johns attempts at conversation. John, full of good intentions, begins to tell Elizabeth about the farm and tries to engage in conversation with her, however she meekly replies to his questions with short, abrupt sentences such as "That's well", "Aye, it would" and "Aye, it is". By manipulating the sentence structure Miller is able to show Elizabeth's reluctance to speak to her husband, and highlight the distance and awkwardness present between them. After complimenting Elizabeth on the meal John, talks about the farm and says with a grin "I mean to please you Elizabeth." And she answers, "I know it John." ...read more.

Conclusion

This is a very subtle and clever way of creating tension. Throughout Act two in the crucible Miller creates a sense of conflict and tension between the Proctors using a number of different methods. Doing this I believe is a brilliant way of keeping the audience interested and making the ending of the book more dramatic. Not only however does this in particular scene help to ensure that the audience wish to watch on, but it also ensures that they understand key events in the play, such as Elizabeth's denial of Johns affair. In act two the audience discover that Elizabeth does know about Johns affair so therefore can work out the later on in the play Elizabeth says that John did not have an affair to protect him, not because she simply did not know. I think that were it not for this scene then the whole of the story would be a lot more complicated and harder to understand. So in conclusion although the tension and sense of conflict that Miller creates between the Proctors make Act two an interesting scene, it also affects the rest of the play and the audiences understanding of events to come as a whole. Rachael Smith English Coursework The Crucible ...read more.

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