Miller’s “The Crucible” is based on the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, in which many innocent people were executed due to accusations that were deemed believable at the time, by a group of adolescent girl’s. These girls were caught up in the widespread hysteria of the lies and deceit in a puritan community. The play also parallels Miller’s own life when he stood trial for giving names of alleged communists. When the play opens, we see Reverend Parris praying and sobbing in a room alone. When Tituba enters ‘frightened’, this creates the tension as Tituba wants to see Betty, but feels she can’t because of Parris.
“She enters as one does that can not bear to be barred from the sight of her beloved” When Tituba seeks the courage to speak, Parris shouts at her. “Out of here! ” Just in the first two lines and stage directions, the tension is created and an impression that Tituba is now scared of Parris. The mood in the beginning is a feeling of sadness, sorrow and tension which creates a lot of emotion swell as drama. In act 1, we see Abigail threaten the other girls to keep quiet about what really happened in the forest “Now look you, we danced and Tituba conjured Putnam’s dead sisters, and that is all.
Abigail clearly controls others. Miller adds to the tension here, by not giving the audience all of the information, but letting us know there is something we haven’t been told. We see the relationship between Proctor and Abigail throughout Act 1 and the rest of the play. Between lines 17 and 19 the impression we get from the relationship, is that Abigail wants Proctor but Proctor. Trying to be a good man resists her. “Gah! I’d almost forgot how strong you are John Proctor”! ” tells the reader that Abigail is trying to show her feelings for Proctor.
“Her concentrated desire destroys his smile” Miller adds to the tension by creating a feeling of unease that Abigail is trying to get to john, but she is being told ‘No! ‘ Abigail then moves on to say “tauntingly” “you come five mile to see a silly girl fly? ” This adds to the tension by Abigail questioning Proctor in a Taunting way. This ongoing banter continues throughout the act. The relationship adds tension to the play, because the audience are not sure what will happen with Abigail and Proctor, and wonder if there is any history between them.
Proctor, being based on Arthur Miller’s life, has been put in the same position as Miller was himself. There are historical parallels, in the play, linking Proctor and Miller. Miller was summoned before the House of Un-American Activities committee – a group searching for Communist Sympathisers who posed a threat to the safety of the state. Just like Proctor did, he refused to answer questions as he did not want to compromise himself. The relationship between Proctor and Parris in Act 1 seems to be somewhat not a pleasant one.
Proctor despises Parris, and thinks that he is greedy in getting money. On page 24, there is an ongoing feud between Proctor and Parris over the deeds to the house. Proctor is angry at Parris for demanding the deeds to the house, and for wanting extra money for firewood. “Mr Parris you are the first minister ever did demand the deed to this house-” Parris replies, “Man! Doesn’t a minister deserve a house to live in? ” Parris is defending his point by trying to get Proctor to believe that he needs a house to live in.
Proctor then goes on to say “To live in, yes. But to ask ownership is like you shall own the meeting house itself… ” This argument continues, and we see Rebecca Nurse trying to keep the calm and the peace. Miller delivers short lines which impact on the audience as she is stuck in the middle and is trying to calm the situation that has arisen. They are now arguing about a party against Parris and Proctor says he should go and join it, when Rebecca says “He does not mean that. ” this shows to the audience that she is trying to keep the peace.
This adds to the dramatic tension because the audience would feel uneasy while watching these constant arguments going on and Rebecca being the one trying to keep the calm. It creates a sense of tension when the audience are facing these people arguing in front of them on the stage. Towards the end of the act, we see all of the girls confess to say they have seen people with the devil, which we now know wasn’t true. When Betty wakes up, Hale and Parris all believe that the curse that the devil has put on them has been broken free and Betty shouts out “I saw Martha Bellows with the Devil!
” All of the girls in the room then follow suit and all start bellowing out who they saw with the devil. “I saw Goody Sibber with the Devil! ” “I saw Goody Hawkins with the Devil! ” This continues until the curtain falls on the act. This dramatic finish adds to the tension created as it puts that feeling of excitement, but at the same time shock into the watching audience. The audience will be in a way, excited that all of the girls are screeching out these names and the audience are waiting to see who will be called out next, and what will happen.
This will pin the audience to the play in the following acts to see what will happen during the trials and who will be rightly accused. There is also a feeling of shock at the dramatic ending, when the girls are all calling out these names quite unexpectedly. Reverend Hale and Parris celebrate that the curse has been set free, adding to the shock as they are shocked themselves, so in turn the audience are being shocked with them. The whole of “The Crucible” is based upon the dramatic devices and effect of tension, especially in Act 1.
The play is known famously for this, and it is interesting how it can be linked with Miller’s own life, shown through John Proctor. The story reminds its readers of an ugly blemish on human history. It reminds us that man is not perfect, and that we can make mistakes. However, even with these mistakes, we can cleanse ourselves and purify ourselves by making what is wrong right. Religion – Puritanism is the key theme in this play, and it adds to the dramatic effects massively as the rules of Puritanism are so strict.
The play is fantastic one to watch and it keeps you on the edge of your chair. It’s a play that, if you are watching it, will be in suspense and eager to find out what is happening next, with its constant turns and twists in the plot.Leigh Jones Tension and Drama in “The Crucible – Act 1” Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Miller section.