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Belonging in The Crucible Essay


That the play The Crucible is about the challenge of belonging is evident by its plot. Millers craft is that he draws his audience into the turmoil of belonging and not belonging through escalating conflict amongst the plays characters. This is achieved through obvious changes in tension, dialogue and character dynamics as expressed in the audio excerpts.

The first of these begins in act II with the inturuption of a domestic argument between John and Elizabeth Proctor in their home, by the intrusion of Mr Hale. What follows is an example of a constant theme throughout The Crucible The contrast of private and public environments. In this scenario the couples intimacy is invaded by a figure that represents the theocrasy of Salem. For Elizabeth and John his character signals the intial threat to their not belonging in Salem society. Proctors cautious enquiry of his guest, Buisness of the court? and Elizabths hesitant and uneasy nature together signify to the audience that Hales visit is an unwelcome one. Hale challenges their belonging by questioning their religion.

Hales entrance is heralded by a knock on the door and dogs barking. The diagetic sound of the dogs barking throughout the act at a new characters entrance becomes a recurring theme which symbolises more public intrusion, and the escalating horror of the Proctors situation; an introduction to more danger.

As dialogue between Proctor and Hale becomes increasingly heated, Proctor especially delivers his lines with agitation, force and defensiveness. Proctor at this point is obviously determined to hold onto his self-reputation and sense of belonging within the community, and himself. When asked to list the ten- commandments, Proctor starts speaking with confidence, eager for self-preservation, but comes increasingly hesitant and trails off in obvious embarrassment, as he has forgotten one- ironically adultery. John and Elizabeths tense attitudes at this time communicate to the audience, as they are already made aware of Johns affair, an understanding of the couples fractured relationship, and the challenge both of them experience in the need to beloing to one another, in marriage.

Hales statement, Theology is a fortress is important in offering the popular idea that an individual must conform to, and believe in, the ideology of the time- or else they will be excluded. Hale delivers this line with levels of concern, as he doubts their motives and dedication to religion.

The importance of belonging to the theocrasy is again intensified after Elizabeths admission that she will not believe in witchcraft if accused. Her speech is promptly followed by shocked reaction in Proctor and Hale, exclamation, and heightened dynamics. Hale uses repetition and emphasis, You surely do not work against the gospel! The gospel! to stress her need to conform.

On Giles Corey and Francis Nurses entry, another interruption given notice to by dogs barking, the atmosphere is again shifted into that of urgency. They speak in a rushed and informative manner, introducing to those in the room and the audience, the seriousness of the newly arisen situation. Francis Nurse speaks with a frail and emotive voice in metaphor, My wife is the brick and mortar of the church. They both are early examples of the impact the trial events have had on them, bringing to them an enforced position against Salam theocrasy.

True to Millers stage directions, Cheevers entrance brings forth a shocked silence in the room. His character is automatically associated with business-like and beurocratic connotations but eventually turns to that of hysteria, over the discovery of the poppet. When he reveals that it was Abigail Williams who charged Elizabeth, the room reacts in an unhappy outburst; his bad news is a step building onto the escalating weight, and the threat of, the situation.

Audio extracts II and III move on from the previous in a much more public domain, together covering the entire of the court scene (Act III).

The setting for such a scene is one of constant conflict, despair and the use of strong emotive language. Repeatedly exchanges between characters are fast, prompt, heated and interrupted- where interjections become a main motif throughout the scene. In dialogue in film and in play this is usually the format of an argument- an atmosphere which is successfully demonstrated to the audience.

From the early introduction of such a torn-up and broken social environment, the audience is made aware of individual conscious and loyalty to other people being crushed under immense pressure to conform, or else the choice to not belong to court theocrasy and follow ones own morals and beliefs. Giles Corey is a prime example. ON entering the court his character is urgent, speaking loudly and clear in defence for him and his wife, but he soon succumbs to the grief of his helpless situation, openly weeping. Giles Corey is a nuisance and distraction to the court, he is shown to the audience is very inferior in the stark contrast to the high position of power in Danforth and the Court.

Danforths statement A person is with the court, or he is against it enforces the superiority of his court and its unjust system, that an individual must choose to belong, or not to belong.

John Proctors confession to lechery is a key moment in the play. It signifies his decision to not belong to the court, and instead t o show loyalty to Elizabeth and his marriage. His character through the course of the act moves through emotions of outrage, despair, shame and uneasiness and delivers his confession with fragility, working with Millers stage directions- his voice about to break and his shame great- but speaking with force and power at the same time. All else on stage are silent while Proctor holds the spotlight to further illuminate the significance of his short-lived monologue.

Marry Warrens character is automatically related to by the audience as a shy, outspoken and a very insecure character- this is achieved through her tentative and quiet voice. She is a figure who is overcome by the conflicting pressures to belong to her peers, and to her masters.

The climax of the act is reached on Abigails performance for the court. On her violent and piercing scream, all in the room react. Her attention seeking nature provokes heightened dynamics and agitation amongst all other characters as the situation has become suddenly urgently- facing those who work against Abigail in an inevitable defeat, On sure to pay consequence. Abigails character at this point clearly outlines the important fact of her public character- that is, while in truth she yearns for individuality (made clear through her lies and seduction with John Proctor), Abigail pretends, courting the approval of the court and its theocrasy, in order to still belong in the public eye.

The final audio extract brings the audience back, from such an exposed, public setting, to the intimacy of the private relationship of John and Elizabeth Proctor. Their position now is quite dire in the very isolated and degrading environment that is Salem jail. They demonstrate the impact this new environment has on them, brought on by their exile from the court speaking passionately to one another (not having met in a number of months), and in almost whispered tones. This communicates to the audience that they are frightened by their situation. It is clear at this part of the play that the public world has overwhelmed teir domestic relationship as foreshadowed in the first extract.

Elizabeth in particular seems moved by her experiences of ostracism, as she weeps through almost the entire act. Both John and Elizabeth speak in husky, frail tones as though physically and emotionally weakened.

John Proctors character speaks rich with emotion, that escalates through his many interactions and experiences. An example is in their powerful manner he delivers the line I cannot mount the Gibbet like a saint! It is fraud! I am not that man!.

When he regers to the authority he speaks obviously with hatsred, and also out of shame in himself, It is hard to lie to dogs!- Proctor emphasises the word dog bitterly. John Proctor has become a man who is no loger sure in his own morals and ideas, having lost his sense of self-worth- this alone has a terrible impact, taking him through a deep inner struggle.

Their exile from the social environment they once knew bring the Proctors to finaly kindle a love and caring, in their belonging to marriage, and one another. John and Elizabeths intimate discussion is once again interrupted by the diagetic sound of the door knocking, symbolic of the public (the courts) intrusion into their private life.

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