The final part of this episode is where John “tears the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury, but erect” (quoted from the stage directions). This, on stage, in complete silence, would be a huge turning point for the character of John Proctor. The tension created by hearing the paper crumple would be mixed with an immense feeling of relief because John has realised that he values truth above all else. In this episode, the pace of the conversation is an important key in creating tension, along with a sort of demanding tone of voice from John. This could be played out with almost no physical movement or contact, as it does not rely at all upon this to create the tension.
As a complete play, “the Crucible” is very hard hitting, showing how a tiny thing, such as a few girls in the woods, can be blown up out of all proportions and resulting in many people losing their lives. This story was based around true events in 1692, a real witch hunt, where real people were hunted down and killed for no other reason than they were suspected of practicing witch craft – black magic or white magic, it didn’t matter, they were witches nonetheless.
The story also mirrors the goings on of the time it was first written and performed. In the 1950’s, communism was seen as a major problem in the USA, so much so that a man called Joseph McCarthy complied a list of over 200 people he claimed must be got rid of, for the sake of the future of the USA. These people were communists, and Arthur Miller saw writing this play as a good way of provoking peoples thoughts on the matter.
He hoped it would make them see that these things didn’t exist – at least the threat from them didn’t – and he hoped people would watch his play, go home and see the similarities between what went on in Salem in 1692 and what was going on in the present day of early day 1950’s. Miller wanted people to make a stand against the people trying to ‘dispose’ of the communists and saw writing a play as a good way of getting an otherwise difficult to explain point across.
To conclude, Miller uses many techniques, ranging from simple variations in volume, interrupting lines and changing the pace of a conversation to more obvious things such as physical contact in order to create, maintain and vary tension levels. I think Arthur Miller has used a good mixture of different techniques, some subtle, some more blatant, to create a play, and in particular the two episodes I have chosen, in which I can feel the tension. Surely, the best way that I can evaluate his success is upon how much tension I felt when watching the play, and that was a great amount.