In Act 4 the audience sees a difference between Parris and Hale. They both were ministers of God, but so different. Parris is more worried about his reputation than the town, villagers and the truth. In Act 1 he does not want villagers to find out what the girls were doing in the wood; he tries to persuade everyone that Betty’s illness is not due to any unnatural causes. However Mrs Putnam first gives the idea of Betty being bewitched. In act 1 Parris trusts and respects Hale. He says “There be no unnatural causes here.
Tell him I have sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, and Mr Hale will surely confirm that. ” but as the accusations grow, Parris seem to believe them; he is changing his mind and has the same opinion as the villagers. Hale changes his mind as well. He is a self-proclaimed expert on witchcraft; at first he believes the girls’ accusations but eventually sees the evil in the court. When he came to Salem, he believes that he knows everything about the Devil and witchcraft from his “weighted with authority” books, “in these books Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises.
Here are all your familiar sprits- your incubi and succubi; your witches that go by land, by air and by the sea. ” After the couple of months in Salem he believes that there in no witchcraft; “It is a lie! They are innocent! ” Hale wants to save the innocent people, condemned to hang; he wants the truth to win as well. But even Hale cannot do anything on his own. Parris does not want to just, honest and fair like Hale; he does not care about the truth. In Act 4 he asks for postponement only because the villagers want it and Parris is afraid to lose his reputation. Miller sets Act 4 in Salem’s jail.
After the hysteria at the end of Act 3, with crowds of people and noise and light, Act 4 begins in silent darkness. The silence is broken by the sound of footsteps and the rattle of keys. The ‘bundle of rags’ on the floor turns out to be Sarah. This eerie prison scene is highly effective and in great contrast to the previous one. The women are actually having a laugh at the situation in Salem. They called Herrick, the marshal, “His majesty” meaning the Devil. They are pretending the Devil will take them to Barbados; “Devil, him be a pleasure man in Barbados, him be singin’ and dancin’ in Barbados.
It is you folks- you riles him up ’round here; it be too cold ’round here for that Old Boy. He freeze his soul in Massachusetts, but in Barbados is just as sweet. ” Herrick takes them seriously, as he comments “I’d not refuse it, Tituba; it’s a proper morning to fly into hell. ” Arthur Miller shows how ‘sick’ is the Salem’s community after the paranoia and hysteria. Any normal society would laugh at this satirical scene, and it seems humorous for the audience as well. Watching the play the audience can explore the painful nature of truth.
Elizabeth Proctor on the very beginning is called by Abigail “cold, snivelling woman”, it is a first information the audience learn about her. Later, in Act 2, the audience can see how cold her house is. Her relationship with John is cold, but audience can ‘feel’ the tension between them. Elizabeth is seen as a good Christian woman, wife and mother. She cannot lie and the audience know this though Abigail says she is a “gossiping liar”. Now Abigail may be seen as a liar. After Abigail’s conversation with John the audience know about her affair and that she still loves him.
In Act 1 Abigail tells the girls she will kill anyone who mutters a word about what happened. “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it: I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine”. So girls would rather lie and damn the others than die. It is first indication why girls could not tell the truth and how ‘painful’ it would be for them.
Elizabeth, however, in her whole life never lied. It is her only lie, which damns her husband to death. He has admitted to the adultery already, Elizabeth meant to save him, John says “She only tries to save my name! ” Hale is also trying to help him “It is natural lie to tell” he says, but Danforth does not change his mind. John Proctor is jailed and will hang. It is highly dramatic moment in the play, and the audience see the disastrous irony, as the only one lie in Elizabeth’s life condemned her husband. Proctor dies for the truth; he’s got his personal reasons to do this.
He does not want to betray his friends, who would rather die than lie, but Rebecca Nurse does it for her religious reasons. John says in act 4 “I blacken all of them when this is nailed to the church the very day they will hang for silence”. John dose not want to lie for personal reasons, also to somehow atone for his sins in the past when he committed the adultery. Through the play many of characters change and in Act 4 the audience sees how they developed. The audience can see a great change in Hale, Parris, Elizabeth and John. Elizabeth was seen as a very cold wife, who “forget nothin’ and forgive nothin'”.
She’d doubted that Proctor forgot Abigail and has an argument with John. Elizabeth is also seen as a good Christian. In Act 4, however, she has changed and her relationship with John has changed. Elizabeth has change and the audience can see her moral growth when she talks to John. Their conversation is very tense and dramatic, but the audience ‘feel’ the love between them. Elizabeth says “I never knew how should I say my love” and “I cannot judge you”; she understands it was a mistake to judge John and whatever he did in the past.
“Whatever you will do, it is a good man does it”. “It needs a cold wife to prompt a lechery” and “It was a cold house I kept”, Elizabeth knows how cold she was for John in the past. Also Reverend Hale’s character has morally grown. He tries to prove they are innocent and there was no witches in Salem. It is an enormous change; he deeply believed in witchcraft and that he will find out who is a witch. But as he spends the couple of months in society of Salem, he sees the corruption of its legal system and realizes the witch hunt is a fraud.
Beyond all he wants save the innocents. “Excellency, if you postpone a week and publish to the town that you are struggling for their confessions, that speaks mercy on your part, not flattering”, Hale tries to persuade Danforth to give him some more time, but Danforth does not want to do it. Hale may even seem to be insane when he says in Act 4 “There is a blood on my head! Can you not see blood on my head? ” The dialogue of characters in “The Crucible” sound like actual speech of 17th century.
Miller uses words effectively and does not include anything not necessary for making a good play. Miller uses contradistinctive linguistic techniques to create different level of drama. For example, when Elizabeth lies in court, John has just confessed adultery, so the drama and tension level is already high. When she comes in, everyone is silent, only Danforth talks to her. He is mainly questioning her, so it creates even greater tension, by withholding information from the audience. Miller also uses repetition “Look at me! ” in that scene.
The author uses exclamation marks and repetition in that scene, as well as in the trial scene when girls scream in terror and repeats everything what Mary Warren says; “Begone! Begone I say! ” , “Never! Never! ” , “Stop it!! “. Using monosyllabic words, exclamation marks, repetition, words ended with harsh letters is Miller’s effective linguistic technique to create tension and drama as it reaches climax in those dramatic scenes. In calm, intimate scenes Miller uses soft cadence, words ended with ‘n’ and ‘w’, different syntax, sentences are longer, to make contrast with moments highly exciting and dramatic.
A good example here is a conversation between Elizabeth and John Proctor. It is a moment of calm before again dramatic scenes and hangings. It is important to show the audience reunion of John and Elizabeth so the drama level can calm down, tension however still remains high so it keeps play interesting for the audience. The scene of reunion between them shows that Elizabeth forgave him everything and understood her own sins. She says, “John, I counted my self so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me! Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should say my love.
It were a cold house I kept! ” Their whole conversation is calm, there are less exclamation marks and sentences are longer than in exciting, dramatic moments. To help make the calmer moments not less interesting than the exciting scenes, besides the linguistic techniques, staging or cinematic devices may be used. For example music matching to the situation on stage as a background can be played. On the end of the play John Proctor is hanged, but he wins morally. He did not lie, did not betrayed his friends and what he believed in.
If Miller had finished the play after Act 3 he would not have been able to show the power of truth; how people of Salem choose to die than lie. In act 4 the audience could see essential moments for the play’s message and theme. ‘The Crucible’ does not have a bad structure. It is written with accurate techniques, so the audience do not see the play as less interesting after the trial scene. Arthur Miller keeps the audience interested in what is presently going on at the stage by using the different, intimate kind of drama in Act 4 to complement the very highly exciting, dramatic and tense setting of the other scenes of the play.