How far does Act 1 of “The Crucible” prepare the audience for the drama to follow?
“The Crucible” was written by Arthur Miller and is performed all over the world. Many clues contribute to the way people question this play and how the dramatic suspense is built up. Details help create the atmosphere and keep the audience interested. Many meanings and allegory can be taken from this play with the help of some information already known. This play also explores many issues of this time and of the past. First of all the title is short and simple – “The Crucible”. The meanings of crucible can be a severe test or trial, a melting pot or a vessel in which substances are heated to high temperatures.
This can give the audience a brief idea of what the play may be about. The different meanings for just a simple word may indicate that the play deals with many issues and can involve trickery or confusion in a simple or small situation. The first scene opens with a view of Reverend Parris kneeling beside a bed praying. His daughter is lying on the bed, but the audience do not yet know this. This first view is shocking to the audience. He gives off a sense of confusion and begins to weep. This grabs the attention of the audience straight away and has dramatic potential.
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The audience will start asking questions already such as is he praying because he has done something to her? The audience may perceive that the girl is dying, but because the audience do not yet know the relationship of the reverend and the girl it keeps them questioning. The props used e. g. the candle, rafters, wooden furniture and the using of the shaft of light peeping through a small window gives the audience a good idea of the time in which this play is set. The candle and the narrow shaft of light give the impression of not seeing clearly.
Since the room is fairly clear it doesn’t distract the audience from the characters. Tituba enters briefly but the line, “My Betty be hearty soon? ” shows that she is obviously very attached to her, but not related because she is black. Since she is black and now that the audience know the era they can tell that she must have been a slave. When Parris snaps at Tituba the audience is inclined to think he is blaming her for something. It shows the audience that she must have a bigger part than portrayed by the brief introduction.
Abigail enters with Susanna Walcott. The audience may feel even more interested when Susanna says “… he cannot discover no medicine for it in his books. ” She is referring to the doctor and this may make the audience predict that the story could be about a search for a cure or discovering a new illness especially in the way crucible can mean a melting pot, for medicine perhaps. We know now that Abigail and Reverend Parris are related as she calls him Uncle and Betty must be related, as he is so concerned and determined, “Then he must search on. As soon as Susanna begins to mention “unnatural causes” meaning witchcraft being the reason why Betty is like this, Rev. Parris dismisses it straight away. Except the audience do not yet know that she is talking about witchcraft so this suggests mystery, which keeps them in suspense or if the audience has already worked that out it could make them believe that he knows witchcraft is involved.
It could also imply that he is a very religious reverend or that he certainly does not want a bad name in the village, “Speak nothin’ of it in the village, Susanna. Susanna exits and then Parris talks with Abigail. The audience discover that witchcraft has almost certainly been going on. Abigail denies all forms of witchcraft but admits to dancing. Parris obviously doesn’t believe her as he questions her very hard, in a way of a trial or test, which again refers to the title. If Parris doesn’t believe her then the audience would agree not to as well since he knows her better than they. The audience can tell that he is very strictly against dancing, “That my daughter and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest? This gives the audience a better idea of his personality and how he feels about certain things. He is obviously looking to hold someone responsible, “I saw Tituba waving her arms over the fire… ” The audience can feel tension building up as he asks short questions, “Why was she doing that? ” His sentences also become shorter and more to the point, “I saw a dress lying on the grass. ” The viewers will think that Parris is a main character of the play, as he has been such a big part already. So far Abigail can be seen as cunning and Rev. Parris as a concerned, religious and suspicious man.
This contrast in characters shows the audience that many contradictions are yet to happen. You can tell that the village must be very small and that gossip travels fast as Mrs Putnam says she heard that Mr Collins saw Betty fly. When the audience find out that Ruth (the Putnam’s daughter) is also in the same state as Betty it makes them predict that there may be an illness or that they have experienced something together. They are still looking for blame, but it is emphasized now more on witchcraft, “There are hurtful, vengeful spirits laying hands on these children. The Putnams are still grieving at the loss of seven babies and they seem to be desperate, “And so I thought to send her to your Tituba. “… “Tituba knows how to speak to the dead” The couple are portrayed to the audience as being gullible and determined to believe that witchcraft is to do with all the bad things that have happened to them, “There is a murdering witch among us, bound to keep herself in the dark. ” All these different types of the same suspicion (witchcraft) lead the audience to believe that the story must involve other characters and that other things must have happened.
The audience still does not know whether Abigail is telling the truth until it is just she, Mercy, Mary and Betty on the stage and the truth is revealed. You start to see the darker side of Abigail, “I’ll beat you Betty. ” Abigail comes across as the dominating one, as she tells the other girls what to do, “Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all. ” The way in which the speech is short shows that Abigail is making the story simple for the others or that she may think herself higher or smarter than them by bossing them about in simple terms.
Betty is clearly bewitched as she tries to fly. Will Mary Warren be the unreliable one who’ll give everything away? This is what the audience may think as the girls single her. The quotation, “I say shut it Mary Warren,” said by the influential Abigail shows that. When Proctor and Abigail are alone and the affair is revealed the audience suppose that much more is going to be revealed. As the play brings in more issues it starts to explain the situation many of the characters are in. You see a more lusting side of Abigail when she is with John Proctor, “I look for the John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart.
The audience believe that Abigail will cause a lot of confusion, deceitfulness, and injustice as she already puts the blame on Tituba and because of her duplicitous nature. The scenic units are short and at a very fast pace, which keeps the audience’s attention from drifting away and keeps adding new, exiting information. More characters are introduced which gives the audience the impression that confusion is a main theme of this play, as well as the fact that so many of the characters contrast with each other e. g. he foolish Giles Corey against the wise Rebecca. They are quick to jump to conclusions. For example when Betty screams as the Psalm is being sung, Ann Putnam says it is because she cannot bear to hear the Lord’s name.
This shows the audience that many are looking for an easy excuse and that they are nai??ve. Already the audience can feel a dramatic climax approaching, as things get tenser. Hale enters with a feeling of authority and seems experienced as he lays down many heavy books, “… they are weighted with authority. He questions the group, which again gives the impression of a trial or test taking place (referring to the title). The questioning summarises what has gone on in the play so far: Hale – “You permit dancing? ” Parris – “No-no, it were secret. ” Abigail will do anything to get shift blame from her by blaming an easy target, the slave-girl. When they begin naming names it is a very good point to leave that act. It keeps the audience engrossed in the story, as do the other dramatic climaxes e. g. when Abigail hits Betty or when Abigail begins to plead with Proctor.
The climaxes tend to get more and more dramatic throughout this act, which gives the audience a feeling that the play will get more and more dramatic. Most of the audience’s predictions are correct. They are right in a way that the story could be finding a cure, but the cure is for witchcraft and the cure is to hang people. However they are wrong in believing that Rev. Parris is a main character because as the play unfolds you realise that Abigail and John Proctor and his wife become the focus. John Proctor becomes the hero of the story.
He does a very moral deed, which is very touching to the audience, Danforth – ” … You will give me your honest confession in my hand, or I cannot keep you from the rope. Which way do you go Mister? … Proctor tears the paper and crumples it… Giles also does a very moral thing, which the audience may have not predicted, when he is being tortured to confess to witchery. They lay heavy stones on his chest and he insisted on having more weight so that he would die. They are wrong in that Tituba becomes more important as she hardly appears in the play after Act 1.
Surprisingly Rebecca Nurse is accused of witchcraft and hanged and the Putnams become the main beneficiaries of the injustice as they inherit lots of land. There are many things which the audience probably didn’t predict, which makes the story even more dramatic. The audience are right about contradiction and confusion, as it is an important issue throughout the play. For example the girls in the courtroom purposely confuse the judges and they people and Hale and the judges have a very different idea on who is innocent and why. Hale – “It is a lie! They are innocent. ”
Danforth – “I’ll hear no more of that! ” At one point in the play Mary Warren admits that they were lying (as the audience predicted), but soon returns to Abigail and the girls, as she is scared of what they might do to her. This again shows how influential Abigail can be over other people. There is also safety in numbers. The audience are right about Abigail. She evilly pretends to be stabbed by a needle in the stomach after watching Mary Warren make a poppet in court and stick a needle in its stomach for safe keeping. Mary Warren, unaware of Abigail’s plan, gives it to Elizabeth as a present.
You can tell Elizabeth is unaware of this completely as she say, “What signifies a needle? ” All the meanings for “The Crucible” are shown in this play cleverly. The vessel is represented by the high emotions. The particular meaning however seems to be the test or trial as the play keeps the audience almost making a trial out of the play. They question and finally come to a conclusion. By the end of the play you have forgotten how this all started, then you realise that it was a simple thing that evolved by lies and deceit and revenge into a terrible catastrophe.
It was the repression of dancing that caused one girl to start rebelling and causing trouble and gradually everything spiralled out of control, but it was all in her hands. Revenge plays a big part in this because at the time there was much rivalry between neighbours over land in Salem. They were Puritans who had moved to America from England around 1600-1700, as they were being persecuted for their beliefs. The name “Salem” is actually a dwelling place in Zion (Psalm 76:2). This again shows the huge effect religion especially Christianity had on people in this era.
The old language gives the audience an image of the type of society. Words like “Goody” show the different way people communicated. Many double negatives are used which gives the audience a sense of confusion at the time or of a lower status of the character, “He cannot discover no medicine. ” Much of the phrases are memorable, which helps the audience to remember important parts of the play and many instances can be compared to the Bible, “Abigail brings the other girls into court and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. This shows how much religion played a part in ordinary people’s lives and how much religious language was used. At important or tense moments the language becomes monosyllabic, “What profit him to bleed? ” This gives you the feeling that they are being blunt and have somehow been hardened by the happenings. This helps the audience understand how the character is feeling and how the events have affected them. Even the dress immediately tells the audience that they were Puritans, which allows them to have a brief idea about Puritan beliefs.
The language is very powerful and evocative. For example John Proctor refers to Elizabeth’s behaviour as “an everlasting funeral. ” This heightens the play and gives the audience a better idea of what has happened in the past, how the characters feel towards each other and what their personalities are like. This helps to make the audience predict what may happen or what the character’s reaction will be like in certain situations. It also helps the audience to become part of the play and become immersed in it.
It is just one example of the many effective metaphorical sentences used in this play. At the end of the play you feel that much injustice has been done. The play acts out a very distressing period in history in a more poetic and emotional way. It reveals important issues at the time such as the belief in witchcraft, the dealings of Satan and how important Christianity was. It shows great moral value in people like John Proctor and how cruel some people can be. This shows contradiction again. It shows how important your role in society was at the time.
For example Danforth refused to stop the hangings even though many had been proven innocent as it would make him an even better reputation. The majority of people nowadays know about the mass hysteria of witch hunting from the 1300s to the 1700s. This prepares them for what may happen in the play. The majority of witch-hunts happened as a part of blame. The Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants were arguing and believed that the Devil was trying to overturn Christianity. The theme of blame plays a big part in this play as much evidence has suggested.
They believed he would recruit humans to compact with him and tempt others to work with him. A great many people, especially women, were persecuted for witchcraft all over Europe. This is because men believed they were strange for simple natural things like producing children. The play shows just how devastating one incident of this was. The justice issues with the play show the true fact that at the time you were doomed from the start if you were accused time. Arthur Miller did not only write “The Crucible” to entertain and educate us, but it also represented what was happening to him at the time.
He had lived during what we could call a witch-hunt, also known as the McCarthy era. In the 1940s and 1950s America became obsessed with the fear of Communism. The government wanted to stop it, as they believed it would destroy the American way of life. People were put on trial about their beliefs and black listed just as the people of Salem experienced. Arthur Miller was also put on trial. You can compare him to John Proctor as he refuses to name names. John Proctor is a main character so it could be a reflection of how Arthur Miller perceives himself.
This is probably why John Proctor is such a believable character. It also educates you in the way history has changed. Miller reminds you that it doesn’t necessarily end in death as it did in the times the “The Crucible” is set. Many people must connect with this play if they have just gone through a time such as the two mentioned or where one is just about to begin. Arthur Miller’s own saga goes through the same issues as “The Crucible” which is why it is so believable because he has experienced all the feelings for himself.
It covers a variety of emotions, themes and issues which all keep it exciting and convincing for the audience. It has deeper meanings than portrayed and educates you in an inspiring way. It is no wonder that such a deep play has been so of witchery. There was no fair way you could prove yourself, as “The Crucible” shows. All the themes of this play: blame, reputation, personal freedom, morality, hysteria, confusion, injustice, fear, beliefs, deceit show exactly all the themes of that era. People began to look for so much hope in the Bible as they were so insecure at the successful.