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'The Crucible' - review

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Introduction

MUHAMMAD JAFREE THE CRUCIBLE A crucible is a vessel in which metals are heated to extremely high temperatures, melted down and purified. The play, 'The Crucible', shows a community which ignites and burns with accusations of witchcraft, mass hysteria and retribution. Set in the small town of Salem Massachusetts in 1692, it explores the struggle of one man with his conscience, and his eventual purification. It is a work of fiction, but based heavily on historical records of an awful chapter in American history. Arthur Miller was a part of this history; he lived through the 1940's when McCarthyism was sweeping the nation. Miller was not only intrigued by the witch trial of the seventeenth century Salem, but he was also concerned with the recent events of his time in the USA. He wanted to relate his affairs with those of the people at the time of the witchcraft trials and so he came across writing 'The Crucible'- a study in the mass hysteria which led to the Salem Witch Trials and an allegory to his own times. The Crucible tells us about the connection between the times that Miller was living in and how they didn't differ to what happened in Salem in 1692. He ironically reflects his character in his story as John Procter; a proud dignified man who had nothing to do with the crime he was being charged for but had to suffer to protect his name. ...read more.

Middle

With a certain Disappointment, he returns to the table' This is a very interesting stage direction. It has been used to create a separation of hearts which were once together. Miller uses religious imagery here as Moses parted the sea of Israel to let his followers pass and let it flow once his enemies started coming through. Miller could have wanted Elizabeth's heart to represent the sea which has now closed and would not bestow John (considering him as an enemy) any place within it. The term 'receives it' tells us that she doesn't give anything back in return, feeling some animosity towards him and also indicating her mistrust in him. As a director I would tell Elizabeth to not show any signs of emotion indicating that she is not impressed by his attempts to regain her trust, where as to the actor play John I would request a sigh of disappointment accompanied with a remorseful facial expression showing how much he regrets making that move. This will help the audience get a vision of his feelings. Elizabeth's views are clearly indicated further on in Act 3 and 4 we find out that she doesn't actually feel this way as she believes that John has benefited her, as a woman like her would by no means have got a man like him and she admires him putting up with her. ...read more.

Conclusion

If I were to direct the play I would propose the actor to move promptly when her footsteps are heard and with the absence of noise. The spotlight should be focused on his face to highlight his facial expressions which should show a state of slight panic. When Elizabeth arrives John should act as I he just arrived home and is washing his hands for dinner. Elizabeth should show no emotions through her face and present dinner without using the element of verbal sounds. This would be done to heighten the level of tension between the two characters I the play. Through out Act 2 the audience is led to believe that the relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor is not going to last for a long duration. Many arguments, actions and expressions that are made by them aid this belief very successfully. Further on in the play they start trusting each other again and towards the end of the play Elizabeth is then widowed as her husband John looses his battle with the court and is accused of working with the devil. Act 2 most likely reflects the personal life of Arthur Miller. He wanted to show how the rich and powerful will corrupt society throughout time. It seems that he wrote 'The Crucible' to clearly present his views of life to the world to see, and in his views he illustrates how life in the 17th century didn't differ very much to life over two centuries later. ...read more.

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