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“I Am Innocent To A Witch. I Know Not What A Witch Is.”: An Analysis Of Arthur Miller’s Use Of Diction, Syntax, And Metaphors In The Crucible

1111 words - 5 pages

“Now, Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped away… It is a providence and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. Aye, naked! And the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow!” (205) This powerful quote is taken from The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller during the Red Scare of the 1950’s. Miller, accused in the McCarthy trials, wrote the play about the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 to criticize the way history was repeating itself and how hysteria was taking over the masses. Arthur Miller’s writing style adds to the retelling of the Witch Trials by his use of diction, syntax, and metaphors. These techniques help give insight to how the ...view middle of the document...

Syntax is very similar to diction, however, instead of what word is used, syntax is how the words are structured in a sentence. In The Crucible, Miller’s use of syntax enhances the believability of the text by archaic sentence formatting. Martha Corey, when accused of being a witch, says “I am innocent of a witch. I know not what a witch is.” (207) This type of sentence framing is not used today. People today would simply say “I’m not a witch, I don’t even know what a witch is.” John Proctor is a character that Miller uses to express the voice of reason in The Crucible, the syntax of his character is distinct and very clearly illustrates how he feels. In the court, Proctor is questioned how he “knows” Abigail Williams (by that the Judge who questioned him meant how he knew Abigail was a harlot). To this he replies, “In the proper place -- where my beasts are bedded. On the last night of my joy some months past… My wife, my dear good wife, took this girl and soon after put her on the highroad. And she being what she is, a lump of vanity, Sir -- Excellency, forgive me, forgive me. She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave. And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance and you must see it…” (220-221) In this passage all the emotion and regret is clearly conveyed in the structure of the speech. Proctor interrupts himself several times and the passage is quite long winded, this was purposefully done in order to show how upset Proctor is. The same effect is created on the pages of 226 and 227 in the quote, also said by Proctor, “I say -- I say God is Dead!... A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face. And it is my face and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud…” The passion demonstrated paints a realistic feeling in the text and...

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