Miller also makes characters pause while they are talking (which slows the dialogue down) and then the other person answers back with short, snappy answers. By doing this, tension is built up because a more eerie atmosphere is produced. “(Pause) Abigail Williams, rise. (Abigail slowly rises). Is there any truth in this!” “(Abigail answers) No, sir.! Miller uses the curtain to great effect. He closes the curtain at the end of each act when the play reaches a near hysterical point. Then, when Miller opens the curtain again it is always with a different scene.
This makes the audience frustrated because they want to know what has happened at the end of the previous scene. The end of Act 1 and the beginning of Act 2 is a perfect example. Act 1 ends with the girls crying out the names of characters that they ‘say’ they saw with the Devil. Then the curtain falls and when it opens again at the beginning of Act 2, Elizabeth and John Proctor are talking to each other in their house.
At one point in the play (start of Act 3) the stage is empty. The audience can only hear voices talking, they can’t see anything. Miller does this because he wants the audience to use their own senses to try and understand what is happening. By doing this, he makes the audience even more frustrated as they cannot see what is occurring.
“(Martha Corey’s voice) If I were. I would know it.” “(Hathorne’s voice) Why do you hurt these children..” The more Miller frustrates the audience the more dramatic tension is built up. The audience always knows what is occurring on stage and can see everything – all the events that unfold. This is much more than any of the characters can see. “(Danforth asks) To your own knowledge, has John Proctor ever committed the crime of lechery!” “(Elizabeth replies) No, sir.” This is a typical example of Miller frustrating the audience, the audience knows what’s happening but he characters don’t. The audience’s knowledge frustrates them.
Throughout ‘The Crucible’, Miller keeps the tension going. He does this by interrupting the mood of a scene when the tension starts to drop. “John, pity me, pity me! (Abigail says).” (The words ‘Going up to Jesus’ are heard in the psalm, and Betty claps her ears suddenly and whines loudly) Miller will raise the tension to almost breaking point and then suddenly drop it by introducing a new character. For example, “(Elizabeth and John are arguing). Quite suddenly, as though from the air, a figure appears in the doorway. They start slightly. It is Mr Hale.” When Mr Hale knocks, it interrupts the argument between John and Elizabeth as well as introducing a new character in the scene.
Dramatic tension is also created by making a scene go on past the point where the audience expects something to happen (past its apparent critical point). This draws the audience into the play, making them frustrated again as well as giving the play more tension as the audience will be expecting something to happen. This is illustrated in Act 3, the courtroom scene. After Mary has given a disposition to the Court, swearing that she never saw apparitions, Judge Danforth decides to question Abigail and the children, in an attempt to find out the truth. Miller wants the audience to think that Abigail is about to be found out.
“But if she speak true, I bid you drop now your guile and confess your pretence, for a quick confession will go easier with you. Abigail Williams, rise. Is there any truth in this?” However, Abigail doesn’t tell the truth. “I have naught to change, sir. She lies.” Miller makes Abigail pass the blame onto Goody Proctor. She does this by lying about the poppets. “Goody Proctor always kept poppets.” This creates another storyline which frustrates the audience as they wonder what’s going to happen next and whether Abigail will be found guilty or not. Having studied the play ‘The Crucible’, I have come to the conclusion that Arthur Miller has used various techniques such as speed of dialogue, character interruption, curtain use, empty stage and activity off stage to create dramatic tension for the audience.