Find traces

As the psalm is being sung, Betty suddenly sits up and “whines loudly”. As this is going on, Parris and the two Putnam’s rush in. The Putnam’s are a selfish, unpleasant pair who have known hard times, having lost all but one child. This has caused them to become exceptionally superstitious as they regard the death’s of their seven daughters as something supernatural. Because of this the Putnam’s are almost hoping to find traces of witchcraft in Betty’s ailment, as they believe that this will lead them to find out the supposedly supernatural cause of their daughters deaths.

Later in this scene, we see a great rise in the tension once again as Reverend Hale questions Abigail and Parris’s slave Tituba regarding what went on in the woods. As Tituba enters the room Abigail points to her, screaming, “She made me do it, she made Betty do it!. This immediate reaction to Tituba’s entrance shows Abigail’s panic at being bombarded by accusations of witchcraft. These are the first signs of hysteria within the play. As Abigail shrieks her accusations on Tituba to shift the blame from herself and Betty, we see the tension in the scene rise rapidly.

Hale’s attention immediately switches to Tituba, who immediately protests against the accusation, although she does not deny that she “has knowledge of conjuring”. However, she blames this on Abigail, saying “she bid me conjure! she bid me make charm!. Here Tituba does not seem to realize how much danger she is in, and instead of pretending to be guilty, which would save her from punishment. However, Parris see’s this as a chance to save his reputation; if Abigail and Betty are innocent then the witchcraft can’t be linked to him.

Hale also seems to believe Abigail, and Tituba is repeatedly questioned despite her protests. Eventually Parris threatens her, saying “you will confess yourself or I will whip you to your death, Tituba! “. Here the first signs of the injustice that was to kill so many people is seen. Tituba has no chance as if she carries on protesting her innocence she will be killed. Therefore her only choice is to pretend that she is guilty or die. When Mrs. Putnam cries “this woman must be hanged”, Tituba begins to realize that they will kill her unless she confessed to the witchcraft, even if she really is innocent.

When Tituba confesses she tries to make herself seem innocent and weak, saying that she tells the devil she doesn’t desire to work for him. Here she tries to make it seem as though she was forced into the witchcraft. However, she still claims that she has no power over the children, and says that “somebody else be witching them”. The Putnam’s immediately begin naming people in the village that they believe may have killed their children. We hear them naming Goody Good and Goody Osburn.

Later in this scene, when Tituba tries to shift the blame by accusing others in the village of being witches, she uses these two names. This shows that she is lying as she uses names that were mentioned earlier, probably because in her panic she could not think of any others, but possibly also because she thinks that these will make the Putnam’s in particular believe that she is telling the truth. As all this is happening Abigail sees how successful Tituba has been and suddenly cuts in, crying pout for the “sweet love of Jesus” and confessing herself to witchcraft.

She begins to cry out the names of Salem townsfolk, claiming that she saw them with the Devil. The tension rises quickly as Betty suddenly awakes and joins in with the accusations. The scene comes to a close with the two girls crying out the names of various Salem residents. In this scene the dramatic tension is particularly high in two points; when Tituba is being questioned and when Betty awakens. Injustice is made evident in Parris’ threat to whip Tituba, as he gives her no chance to prove her innocence and Tituba confesses to witchcraft in order to stay alive.

When Betty awakens she immediately cries out the nam4es of several villagers, showing that she may have been awake throughout the scene as she seems to know exactly what is going on when she wakes up. The next key scene in which the dramatic tension is high takes place in John Proctors home. John has arrived home late, having been planting crops all day. His wife Elizabeth enters the room and they converse. Although their tones are casual, a slight rift in their relationship can be sensed. However, Elizabeth does not seem to be able to forgive him for his affair, and cannot help being suspicious.

“You come so late I thought you’d gone to Salem this afternoon”. This shows that she does not trust him as she suspects him of going to Salem without telling her, possibly to see Abigail. Although John’s reply to this is casual, we can clearly see that he knows her suspicion, as he goes about trying to please her. However, when he get’s up and kisses her, she does not react, making it seem as though she has no feelings for him. The tension in the scene begins to mount as Proctor she tells him that Mary Warren has again gone to Salem, against his orders.

When he questions Elizabeth further, she tells him of the court that has been set up to judge the accused, and of the hangings that were to take place. As John’s astonishment grows, Elizabeth tries to persuade him to go to Salem and tell them that the whole situation. is a fraud. However, John hesitates, saying that he has no witnesses as he and Abigail were alone in the room when she told him. At this Elizabeth’s suspicion is again sparked off as Proctor had previously told her that they were not alone. She turns from him coldly as she feels he has betrayed her again.

John senses this and angrily tries to convince her of his innocence, but she remains suspicious, saying ” John, if it were not Abigail that you must go to hurt, would you falter now? I think not. ” In this comment Elizabeth indirectly accuses her husband of still harbouring feelings for Abigail. As John’s anger grows, he accuses her of never trusting him. In turn she accuses him of being dishonest with her. The tension in the scene is at a climax and they are arguing heatedly when Mary Warren enters, having just returned from the court in Salem.

Proctor immediately grabs her and reprimands her for leaving wothout permission, and they do not continue their argument. In this scene we can clearly see the damage that Proctors affair has done to the relationship between him and Elizabeth. She has lost all trust in him, becoming suspicious at the slightest thing. In turn, he is not honest with her, hiding the fact that he and Abigail were alone together in order to avoid her suspicion. John does try to make up for his past sins, but cannot control his temper after she does not react to any of his affectionate gestures. This shows that she has not forgiven him for the afair.

Throughout all the key scenes mentioned, dramatic tension can be felt between characters, particularly at moments of hysteria, such as Betty’s awakening, and arguments, such as the one between John and Elizabeth. As characters get carried away with the tide of events, they do not realise the injustice and danger thier actions cause, such as when Parris threqatens Tituba. Hysteria leads to Abiagil, Tituba and Betty comdemning many respectable people to their deaths for crimes that they did not commit. Their actions resulted in a blemish that may never be wiped from man’s history.

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