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How Does Miller Create And Maintain Tension In Act Ii Of ‘The Crucible’

2710 words - 11 pages

Miller exacerbates tension throughout Act II of ‘The Crucible,’ which was written to incriminate the corrupt trials taking place in the McCarthy Era in America during the 1950s. In the Salem witchcraft trials accusations were made without evidence and this led to the death of those with unfortunate fate in 1692 as a result of the mass hysteria in the Salem community and Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’ is an allegory of these trials. Salem, Massachusetts, was a strict puritanical society and during the witch hunts in Salem, nineteen people were hanged under accusations of being witches, one was pressed to death and thirteen died in prison. The title of the play also links into the key themes of ...view middle of the document...

The last definition of a severe test or trial is associated with John, his trust was put to test by his wife and this leads to his eventual death when he confesses in court, nobody believes him, ‘shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms declare his truth,’ before he is hung Hale says this, insinuating that he is guilty and will rot in hell.
In the previous Act, everybody is hysterical and the tension is high. The scene ends with women being accused of being witches. During Act I, Reverend Parris catches sight of Abigail Williams his niece and his daughter Betty dancing in the woods with other girls. Abigail drinks the blood of a chicken as a charm to kill Elizabeth Proctor whose house she no longer serves as a maid in after having an affair with Elizabeth’s husband. ‘She is a cold, snivelling woman, and you bend to her!’ Abigail despises Elizabeth, she is already a girl of low status as she is unmarried and she ruins her name by committing adultery. Abigail wishes to marry John Proctor as he too has blackened his name and it would be best for both of them, however he can not leave Elizabeth. Since Parris found the girls dancing in the woods, Betty is unexpectedly bed-ridden and left in an unconscious state, suspicion of witchery arouses when Thomas Putnam, a rich man from Salem, also reports of his daughter Ruth’s sudden illness, ‘she ails as she must – she never waked this morning, but her eyes open and she walks, and hears naught, sees naught, and cannot eat. Her soul is taken, surely,’ they are puzzled as they cannot be sure and they cannot accuse anyone without questioning them. Abigail denies any type of witchery and tries to convince Parris of this, ‘We did dance, uncle, and when you leaped out of the bush so suddenly, Betty was frightened and then she fainted.’ Any association with the devil could lead to grave consequences and she is aware of this. This triggers the many accusations, intensifying the atmosphere, many are accused of having associated with the devil and we, the audience, are left wondering. Miller creates tension effectively, at the end the curtain falls, the scene ends very frantic and the rest is left untold.
John Proctor is an unusual character; he is a farmer with three children and is quite well-off. From the start of the play, Miller places us in the position of feeling relatively indifferent to John’s feelings, having uncovered his affair with Abigail. He is marked for calumny and this leaves us more empathetic with Elizabeth, Abigail still has feelings for him and tries to win him back, ‘John - I am waitin’ for you every night,’ the affair has already caused a divide in John and Elizabeth’s relationship and Abigail tries her best to augment it further. Later on, as Act II progresses, the audience are left unsure as to whom to side with as the previously subdued Elizabeth now reveals her emotions and seems quite insensitive. Of course she has not yet forgiven John, however she seems arrogant constantly...

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