The following sample essay is about the actions in the play The Crucible. To read the introduction, body, and conclusion of the essay, scroll down.
Act two is an Act of many different emotions. It has a very rocky start, which leads to bad news and a build up of anxiety. The tension varies throughout, from dinner at the start and Mary’s intervention as well as Elizabeth going to court at the end. At the start of Act Two there is an awkward tension between Proctor and Elizabeth, which carries throughout the Act.
The tension is shown from the start. The two of them share short, sharp sentences. Proctor says of the meal, “It is well seasoned. ” He is lying because it says in the introduction to the Act that he adds salt to the pot himself without her knowing.
This combines with everything else, i. e. the quietness, the fact that they can’t have a proper conversation between the two of them and the general unease.
This suggests that there is secrecy between them, which we know to be Abigail, and that they are both unhappy being together. Arthur Miller is giving clues to the audience that the two are far apart as if they have a chasm between them. The catalyst to make them argue is “… I thought you had gone to Salem this afternoon. ” This is important because of the business with Abigail and Mary being there today because of the court.
Elizabeth provokes Proctor by bringing up Abigail in this argument.
As tension is already ruling this scene, it is not a good idea of Elizabeth’s to talk of her. However this does show that Elizabeth could be the stronger of the two as she was the first to speak of Abigail. Other evidence of this is moments later Proctor is “wide-eyed” and trying to put off this argument as he is “thinking beyond” going to Salem but realises he is going to have to give in. He is being cornered in his own home and Miller knows the audience respond to this. The audience do so by feeling for the first time that Proctor is weaker than someone else.
This is the proven later in the Act when he feels weaker than everyone, once he loses Elizabeth. When Mary arrives on the scene, the audience is immediately struck with a different air about her. Rather than being the one who feels to the audience as a lost and scared character, (“a subservient little girl”), she comes in fairly confident although this diminishes after a while. She gives Elizabeth a poppet as an apology. This is found odd by Elizabeth “perplexed, looking at the doll” and the audience find this odd to but the poppet will become a big feature later on in the Act.
As Mary tells them about Goody Osburn she senses the danger but hides it under her “authority. ” She is “edging off-stage” when tells them about being an official of the court. This shows that Mary is nervous or perhaps regretting telling Proctor this. Proctor reacts angrily but she stills “strives for her authority” to just before the whip comes “cracking down. ” Mary arriving causes a different argument between them but this is a very different argument, somewhat more sinister or more involved.
Elizabeth urges Proctor to speak to Abigail but Proctor has a feeling dragging him back- “his soul hardening as he senses… ” Miller sort of uses religious language in this quote and that is ironic as it will be of significance later on. Elizabeth has the last laugh by giving him an ultimatum and a bitter end to the argument by saying “She has an arrow in you yet John Proctor and you know it well. ” This gives the audience a hope that Proctor will speak to Abigail but Hale appearing at just the wrong time dashes these hopes.