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Dramatic Tension In Arthur Miller's The Crucible

2739 words - 11 pages

Dramatic Tension in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

Both acts 3 and 4 employ a variety of dramatic techniques to engage
the audience in the fate of John Proctor. Miller continually shifts
the focus from character to character throughout the scenes, which as
a result produces a strong overall effect in the play. The play was
written in the early 1950's during a time when there was a lot of
unnecessary hysteria in the United States surrounding Communism, and
although the play is based on the Salem witch hunts of 1692 they're
similar to what was happening in America at the time. As the hatred
towards Communism, the red plague, grew, the subsequent McCarthy
trials and investigations into un-American activities were set up.
This was very similar to what happened in Salem in 1692. However, the
tragic dilemma of Proctor also teaches a universal issue
understandable to us all.

First, I will consider the dramatic function of the character whose
views are closest to the audience Reverend Hale. He is a
well-respected man in the community, as he is a witch hunter, and he
provides the audience with a character that they are able to empathise
with. His changing views resemble the audience's feelings, evidence
for this is in that as the act progresses Miller makes him
dramatically change his opinion toward the court case and the legal
system. This would be what the audience would feel in their response
to the horror of the play and how the court case develops and
progresses. When he enters the play in act two, Hale seems to be
convinced that he can prosecute witches in the court and he makes some
people confess to witchcraft. However when he listens to John and Mary
Warren speak he begins to doubt the court, not dissimilar to the
audience. After this Hale speaks out against the court and becomes
angry with Danforth and Parris's naivety toward the case, and this
builds up the tension further by making the room silent. Hale also
dramatically focuses the contrast between truth and falsehood here in
the theocratic society, yet also points out that the court itself has
made the country afraid of the court. Overall in this scene Miller
uses Hale as a focus for the feelings of the audience watching. Hale
acts as a mould of the audience's thoughts and views and changes
throughout the act in relation to the strong feelings of the audience.
"Is every defence an attempt against the court?"

Miller uses the character of Danforth very effectively throughout the
scene to build up dramatic tension in the courtroom. In the act
Danforth is portrayed as a devious evil character with only his
self-interest at heart. Miller builds up a picture of him for the
audience of his irrationality by demonstrating how all the characters
are at his mercy and the audience Miller produced this play for along
with a modern...

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