The Crucible - "How does MIller create tension in Act 1

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Angelo Nicholas                                                                10 Heath

                                        The Crucible

A crucible can be defined as a heatproof container in which substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures, which may cause any impurities to rise to the surface. However, a Crucible could also be defined in two other ways: metaphorically it is a severe test or trial and a place, time or situation characterised by the confluence of powerful, intellectual, economical and political forces. The significance of these definitions illustrates how appropriate this title is to the play. Some of the characters are tested to their limits and crumpled under the pressure. Another interpretation of the word is how a crucible purifies metal, which is similar to how the people of Salem purify the accused who confess. The accused are tested to their limits to see whether or not they will fold and tell everyone they are witches to save their lives or if they will keep honest with themselves and risk their lives.

Miller chose the subject of the Salem Witch trials as it is clear hysteria, was the main cause of the innocent being accused in both Salem 1692 and Millers present time, America 1940s-50s. Both eras involved people of society accusing each other. In Salem 1962, people were accused of being witches and in the McCarthy era, people were being accused of being communists. The McCarthy era took place in the twentieth century. Those who were against communism like Senator McCarthy, in fear of downfall accused many of being communists even though many were innocent. Those that were accused were persecuted by other people in the community and blacklisted. The Salem With trials took place in the seventeenth century in Salem, Massachusetts. As in the McCarthy era, people who were even accused of being witches were persecuted. In Salem, many innocent people were killed because of the results of false accusations due to hysteria being blown out of proportion. It had no place in both societies, it caused chaos, paranoia, confusion, fear, hatred and in Salem 1962, death.

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In Act one of the play, Miller sets the scene for the opening of the play with stage directions of Reverend Parris “kneeling beside the bed, evidently in prayer”. Quickly, the audience are shown that religion plays a major role in the play and what seems to be one of the main themes too. The importance of religion enforced again when Reverend Parris cries, “Oh my God! God help me!” There can be several reasons for why this was said. It could mean to help his daughter, his congregation or maybe just himself. “God” is shown to be the ...

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