1. The ‘confessions’ in the play are not usually about truth, as they are enforced and arise out of fear. Discuss the role you think confessions play in the dramatic force of this play.
Confessions within the play The Crucible are driven essentially by fear and are not based on the truth. Arthur Miller uses the concept of self-benefiting confession to show the dark side of Salem, creating a sense of dramatic tension and suspense. The confessions are used to drive the play towards the objective of Miller’s story, the crumbling of the Salem community and continuous hangings. Within the play The Crucible confessions are seen as a sign of purity as admitting guilt suggests personally extricating the devil. However, the confessions create a climate of frenzy and cause Salem community members to accuse others of witchcraft to save themselves. The confessions bring the case of witchery from the court to the homes of the villagers. Tituba, Reverend Parris’ slave, is one of the first characters to confess, after being falsely accused by Abigail Williams. Tituba ‘is in her forties, from Barbados’ (Act Ι, pg. 6), she is an intelligent woman who observes that if she were to confess to being an agent of the devil, the village, Reverend Hale and members of the church would forgive her and try to find other agents of the devil within the community. Abigail ‘a strikingly beautiful girl, aged seventeen and an orphan with an endless capacity for dissembling’ (Act Ι, pg.6) notices this and decides to follow Tituba. As she sees this as an escape, Abigail commences to falsely accuse female villagers of Salem, such as; Goody Proctor. In this case, her accusations and confessions are purely for her benefit, her life and to re-ignite her love affair with John Proctor, ‘John-I am waitin’ for you every night’ (Ι, pg. 17).
John Proctor’s confessions are the most scandalous confessions in The Crucible. He confesses to adultery in order to free his wife. However, the difference between John Proctor and the other confessing characters is that his confessions are legitimate are not built on falsehood. John Proctor damns his name within society in return for his wife’s innocence, however, Mary Warren falsely accuses Proctor of being ‘the Devil’s man’ (Act ΙΙΙ, pg. 95), this is to benefit her stance within the court and the rest of the girls, led my Abigail. Confessions do not only occur surrounding the case of dancing in the woods or witchcraft; within Act Ι, Proctor states that he is against Reverend Parris as he does not believe he has a holy man status, ‘I like not the smell of this ‘authority’’ (pg. 25). This confession by Proctor is dismissed later in the play as witchcraft develops to a fatal extent.
Miller uses confessions to position the audience to feel certain emotions for certain characters; for John Proctor, the audience is positioned to feel respect and forgiveness towards him for being the honourable man he is. Abigail is depicted as a despicable character...