What Concerns does Miller present to us Regarding the Community of Salem in Act 1 of 'The Crucible'

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“What Concerns does Miller present to us Regarding the

Community of Salem in Act 1”?

Throughout Act 1 Miller presents the reader with a number of concerns regarding the community of Salem as well as with individual characters. These range from the inherently religious life of a Salem villager to the feelings of mistrust and the ability to decieve held by many of them. In the following paragraphs it will be explored how Miller is able to develop these apprehensions as the Act progresses.

From the very first description Miller is able to paint Salem as an isolated and claustrophobic town, setting the scene in a “small upper bedroom” in the house of Reverend Parris. The reader is presented with a very much static scenario in which “raw and unmellowed” furnishings sit unsettlingly around the room and this disconcerting feeling is built upon with the discovery of Parris “kneeling beside the bed…in prayer” while his daughter lies “on the bed, inert”. Miller immediately makes us question the situation we have been plunged into and as our curiosity about this secluded community grows, so to do our concerns. As we progress further into the Act Miller clarifies that the previous scene was in fact as isolated as the rest of Salem, and to the outside, European, world the town is seen as nothing more than “A barbaric frontier inhabited by a sect of fanatics”. This builds anxiety as we enquire as to why this is the view held of these people and we notice the oppressive nature of the town. To the reader “the necessity of the Devil may become evident as a weapon” due to the fact that as long as this belief in Lucifer exists, the people will never be free to speak their minds and this undertone of claustrophobia and emptiness will always exist.

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Furthermore, it appears Salem is so inherently religious that the people are blinded by their own “parochial snobbery” and instead of modernising, they focus only on paying “homage to God”. In this sense the writer is presenting a major concern to the reader, as a community that carries an “innate resistance” towards “heathens” is guaranteed to boil over at a later stage. Outsiders are simply not welcome or accepted in this society and it is this struggle with what Miller calls the “dark and threatening” that in many respects seals the fate of several characters in the play. Therefore ...

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