The Crucible & Arthur Miller

The play is entitled The Crucible, as a crucible is a piece of scientific equipment used to purify metals. In order to purify metal you must put it through a fire. John Proctor goes through a fire before his conscience becomes pure. In The Crucible there are four acts. At the end of act one there is hysteria as Abigail and her ill cousin Betty start shouting names of people they claim to have seen with the Devil: “I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil! ” Abigail screams these names and her cousin joins her as the curtain closes leaving the audience in an air of suspense.

All four acts end in tension much like a modern day soap opera. Act two starts a lot quieter and more peaceful, in John Proctor’s living room. The stage directions give us a calm image: ‘From above, Elizabeth can be hear softly singing to the children. ‘ The word ‘softly’ gives of a loving feeling, a complete contrast to the previous act. It soon becomes clear that John Proctor is not as happy as once believed. “Then he lifts out the ladle and tastes. He is not quite pleased. He reaches to a cupboard, takes a pinch of salt, and drops it into the pot. ”

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This gives the audience the impression that something is wrong and John is not happy. The stage directions on page forty-two shows a sense of separation between Elizabeth and John. “Her back is turned to him. He turns to her and watches her. A sense of their separation arises. ” This also lets the audience know that something has happened in the household and all is not right. Between pages forty-three and forty-six there is an exchange between Elizabeth and John, mainly about Abigail. This gives the audience additional information about the situation.

“You come so late I thought you’d gone to Salem this afternoon. ” Elizabeth still suspects John is having an affair with Abigail, again giving the audience the impression of their separation. Page forty-six. Enter Mary Warren who has come from the court in Salem. She fills us in on background information, updates the audience, and acts as the harbinger of bad news. She tells the Proctors of how serious the proceedings have become. “Goody Osburn – will hang! ” This is the first sign of hanging and would shock the audience. Mary also gives Elizabeth a puppet she made in court.

Puppets can signify voodoo and witchcraft. This is an important turning point in the play. “I made a gift for you today… Why thank you, it’s a fair poppet. ” This gives the audience a sense of fear, as Mary Warren could be part of Abigail’s plot. Exchange occurs between John and Mary to the point where he is ready to whip until she changes the atmosphere of the act. “(pointing at Elizabeth): I saved her life today! ” At this point of the act everyone would freeze. The audience would be shocked that the same woman that was singing to her children at the beginning of the act could be accused of witchcraft.

This shifts the pattern of the act as it starts the climax to the dramatic ending. Mary tells us it was Abigail accused Elizabeth. We know from Act one that Abigail has violent intentions towards Elizabeth. “She is a cold, snivelling woman, and you bend to her! This tells us that Abigail is just doing this to get revenge on Elizabeth and also so she can try and win John back without anyone standing in her way. The argument between John and Elizabeth carries on through pages fifty to fifty-two. The argument is more heated, more detailed about Elizabeth’s suspicions.

“Then how do you charge me with such a promise? ” Elizabeth still suspects John and the audience has a sense of John’s anger at such a charge. On page fifty-two Hale enters. This would worry the audience, as Hale is associated with the court and witch hunting. From page fifty-two to page fifty-six he interrogates John, making the audience feel anxious and worried for John. The tension escalates at this point as the interrogation creates an atmosphere of tension and anxiety. We find that John is very rebellious, stubborn and independent.

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