Arthur Millers The Crucible is an over the top and irrelevant piece of drama. Discuss this comment with close reference to the play.
Arthur Millers The Crucible is a piece of drama that involves a dilemma affecting the town of Salem. The drama can be in some cases viewed as over the top and irrelevant because of the language used, the superficial characters and an outstanding increase in tension. Arthur Miller highlights these themes by using a range of techniques like melodrama, metaphors and different language methods.
Using the historical subject of the Salem Witch trials, Arthur Miller's play (1953) presents an allegory for events in America. The Salem Witch Trials took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, and were based on the accusations of a 12 year old girl named Anne Putnam. Moreover a man named Samuel Parris leaded the prosecution of many witches in Massachusetts, 19 people were hanged and one was pressed to death over the following two years. Millers play employs these historical events to criticize the moments in humankinds history.
Firstly, the structure of The Crucible, in Act 3 has a slightly melodramatic sensation, as Abigail is a perplexed character. When she pretends to see a yellow bird, it is the definitive moment of melodrama because it seems as if she is possessed, intense and overly dramatic, she targets the weak-willed Mary Warren, knowing that she will easily break from her agreement with Proctor once challenged. Henceforward, the structure of the act is like a shooting star as the sensational drama keeps on building up at the end of each Act and increasing as new events occur.
The melodrama in the play is conveyed by when the court case starts to the part where an imaginary bird enters the room. Between these two scenes the insanity increases. Miller uses a variety of techniques such as surprise endings, to ensure that tension is not lost and is kept at a peak throughout the play. By using a basic form and structure, The Crucible is easy to follow and uses the dialogue and pace to aid the building of tension to the ultimate climaxs at the end of each Act and the end of the play. An example of a surprise ending is reinforced at the end of Act 4, when Proctor dies. This keeps the melodrama and tension rising because surprisingly Proctor chose death over freedom. The audience can find personal relevance from this because it can show many people different ways to treat different situations, and what Proctor did was something that most people wouldnt do.
The relevance of the extract can be viewed by Art. Art can be an expression of someones feelings and emotions, expressing a place or person, it can also make you think and may have a degree of difficulty. An insight of art could be suggested by the quote God is Dead said by John Proctor. This is a form of art because it expresses his feelings. Furthermore art is revealed by the fact that the extract is partially about love, hate, guilt and betrayal, these are all major themes that all happen in everyday relationships. The theme of guilt is used in the play to add effect e.g. Let you look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not this is said by Proctor in Act 2 and it shows the culpability in the relationship. Proctor also says I want my life, this is a strong comment for the reason that he has committed so many sins and he is adulterated, but he may want to start a new life but by being a pleasant man this time. The exploitation of art is relevant because the audience can then take these themes and apply them in everyday life just as it was in the play.
Moreover, melodrama in the play is shown by plot twists and implausible events. An unanticipated plot twist happens when Elizabeth lies to protect Proctor, My husband-is a goodly man, sir. This is melodrama because it leaves us traumatized, because Elizabeth lying is shocking as she is viewed as a true Christian. Another unexpected theme occurs as an implausible event when Proctor dies at the end of Act 4. It is implausible for the reason that this is most unlikely as Proctor chose death and most people would chose to live rather than die, but it was also thought that at the end, Proctor was a good man. The melodrama is transmitted by the unpredictable events occurring and the way they have been dealt with.
During The Crucible pace is used as a technique in order to create tension. Throughout Act 1, the actions are immediate and there is a constant flow of different people being introduced. By placing this within a small room, Miller gives the feeling of the characters being suffocated and having a lack of privacy in the village. By juxtaposing this with Act 2, Miller is able to create tension through the amount of space in the scene, in comparison to the previous act, and through a slower dialogue. Moreover in Act 3 the pace quickens as the dialogue is much faster and much snappier e.g. No, Sir, Oh, God!. Henceforth the stage directions are very precise during the act, e.g. (To Abigail), this stage direction is very specific in order to make the audience know who to focus on. The stage directions also tell the reader l lot about the character. Before Mercy Lewis enters she is told to be fat, sly, merciless girl of eighteen, this instantly helps the reader visualise the character which assists the tension to increase and links to it being over the top because of the specific actions that have to be taken.
Another device that Miller uses throughout the act is different language styles, for example, biblical and dramatic language. The overly dramatic language is made known when Proctor says My wife will never die for me. Other language techniques that the author uses are metaphors. The simile he wake me every night, his eyes were like coals and his fingers claw my neck The word coal highlights that his eyes were black which could mean that there is dullness in their relationship.
Moreover, the language is obviously old fashioned containing echoes of the King James Bible (1611). Language from the Bible that relates to The Crucible is shown where it says a fire is burning. A crucible is where the impurities of materials are cleared out in high temperatures, this links to the title The Crucible. Furthermore this could also link to the character John Proctor as he demonstrates to make himself untainted. Miller also uses biblical and religious language such as gospel and lord, which confirms the nature of the religious community. This is relevant as the language relates to its historical time period.
One of the most effective uses of language in the play, Is Millers use of old fashioned, outdated words such as harlot. Millers frequent use of words such as this ensures that the language maintains its era but is also simple to understand. The dialogue constantly uses aye or nay which when said carry more emotion than a simple yes and no but is also easy to understand. This can be observed as over the top because of the particular words that Miller chooses to use to keep his play in the certain time period. I think that it is necessary for Miller to sustain his time period to show everyone difference in times back then and times now. When acting the production, the actors speak with an American accent. This carries the dialogue more effectively because with an American drawl, the accentuated words and phrases will seem more critical in the play.
Arthur Millers The Crucible despite being set in a specific historical period of the Salem Witchcraft trials in 1692, its relevance, although we do not have witchcraft today, is significant not only to Millers time but to us today. A great drama is a play where an audience can find personal relevance. It is something which an audience can relate to. A great drama should have a meaning to highlight to the audiences for multiple generations. The Crucible successfully related to its audience and left us with messages that still echo today. The crucible must be considered to be a great drama because of Arthur Millers dexterous play writing which created a script that not only addressed the idea of conformity in American culture, but also illustrated the unreal amount of power that individuals hold. Conformity is a strong theme in The Crucible and Millers audience can draw parallels to it in their own lives, this is where we can find personal relevance. Miller was successfully able to use this theme in his play to make his audience think about where they would draw the line.
The Crucible is seen by many people as more of a reading on McCarthyism' than the actual Salem trials. McCarthyism was the name given to a movement led by Joe McCarthy. This movement concluded the hunting down and exposing of people suspected of having communist connections. While those were found guilty in McCarthy's witch hunt were not executed, many suffered irreversible damage to their reputations.
In The Crucible there is a lot of historical context including the McCarthyism act which can be seen as exceedingly dramatic. McCarthyism also related to Millers personal experience as Miller had to name communists. An example of this is highlighted in the play in Act 4 when John Proctor says You will not use me! Its no part of salvation that you should use me, and I sold my friend this relates to Millers personal experience. Another quote is used that relates to McCarthyism and Millers knowledge, Is every defence an attack upon the court, Miller could have included this in because he may have wanted the audience to know the unpleasant time that he was having during this stage of McCarthyism.
McCarthyism links with The Crucible as Miller's work has elements that have continued to provoke and enthral audiences. It has been suggested that the play works on a wider symbolic level which it has been performed since the 1950s and by the way that it has been applied to a wide number of similar situations in different cultures and periods. The play speaks to anyone who has lived in a society where the questioning of authority and general opinions leads to rejection and punishment. It also attacks the poor balance of power that we can see around us everyday. Miller shows us how much power a sole individual can have when that person defines the ideologies or beliefs by which we live.
Additionally, the character of John Proctor was a tragic hero in The Crucible. Proctor was a sensible farmer that had committed the sin of adultery. He had tragic imperfections that lead to his downfall. Proctors excessive pride hindered him from reality. He felt that the Salem witch trials would and could not affect him. However, he was wrong because his former lover Abigail accuses his wife of witchcraft. Proctor does not want to tell the public about his affair, but when he does it is too late. Elizabeth Proctor was brought up and convicted of witchcraft. Furthermore in Act 3 frustration gets the better of Proctor, Proctor is beyond speech in his anger. It is exasperating for him to feel powerless, and to not be trusted.
From acts 1 to 4 there is a gradual but noticeable change in John Proctors character. He had to do everything he could to try and save his name, to save everybody else from Abigails accusations, he admits that he had an affair with her. Later he tries to redeem himself by choosing death rather than lying and saving his life. At the end of the story he seems to be a hero. This is relevant to us today because it demonstrates how any type of person can commit so many faults but then neutralise this by trying to purify his character.
Metaphors are also used to set the scene and ensure that the audiences conjure strong, unmistakable images in their minds. There is evidence of this in Crazy children jangling the keys of the kingdom which is a contrast to the simplistic language Aye, he did throughout the rest of the play. This ensures when metaphors are used, they seem more pivotal to the dialogue.
The Devil's touch is heavier than sick. It's death y'know, it's death driving into them, forked and hoofed Language such as this conveys to the audience the setting and the strong religious and supernatural believes of the people of Salem. The heavy influence of death and the Devil create tension in their own right, but it become even more unsettling to hear such a strong use of imagery and language demonstrating the people's absolute and unquestioning belief in the Devil and witchcraft before anything else.
Moreover, a relevant theme in the play is guilt and its consequence. Guilt is a simple term to appreciate. It is to do with you examining over something you feel you have either been accused of or done something bad which has had a massive impact on you. This is something that is apart of everybody and is therefore relevant to a modern audience. This theme of guilt that is explored in the play and is very effective in revealing its message and it comes in when Proctor shows his progression of his shame against committing adultery with Abigail. He cannot forgive himself for what he did and therefore the magistrate sits in his heart that judges him on who he has become, rather then who he actually is. Proctor who plays an essential role in expressing this idea is a perfect metaphor for this as in most of the play he is regretting committing the actions he did and wants to get rid of his impurities and forget about his sin. This is emphasized when Proctor says let you look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not. These layers of disguises of Proctor show us how guilt creates who you are as feeling ashamed for doing something wrong makes us realise for the future not to make the same mistake. These feelings are widespread in each one of us and are apart of life and are therefore worldwide in there insinuation and are absolutely relevant.