Act three is the boiling point of the crucible. How does Arthur Miller create tension and suspense to achieve dramatic effect? The crucible was written in 1953 to highlight the atrocities of ‘McCarthyism’, the modern parallel to the Salem witch-hunts. Senator Joseph McCarthy was as determined to hunt out communists, as the Salem judges had been to hunt out witches. Like the Salem judges he sought to extract first confessions and then named of alleged associates. Refusal to denounce others in both communities could be punished as contempt of the committee or court therefore many were forced into self-preservation and started to blame others to save themselves.
Most of the crucible is centered on the court and theocracy. It was these strong religious beliefs that made the ‘town’ of Salem, Massachusetts, particularly disrupted by the rumour of witchcraft. Salem was an intensely Puritan village whose religion frowned upon fun; Christmas festivities were forbidden and holidays only meant that they must focus even more time upon prayer and the church. This strict upbringing, without any fun, was partly to blame for the children’s ‘crying out’. The boredom they must have suffered led to their accusations so that they may be at the centre of attention. The puritan religion at that time throve on fear of the devil and had an obsession with sin and damnation. Therefore any other justification for the girls’ behaviour was seen as contempt of the court.
It wasn’t until much later that mass-hysteria was considered and concluded to be the explanation if the girls’ behaviour. The cause of Mass-hysteria in this case was the group of children’s boredom; the reason for this is twofold. Firstly it led to dancing and ‘conjuring’ of spirits in the wood and secondly Abigail William’s boredom gave her a need for attention. Abigail’s accusing of several ‘witches’ caused Betty to believe she saw the Devil and a baseless belief, such as this, is often the cause of Mass-hysteria; it begins small with one person in hysteria (Abigail) but travels and inflicts more people and more people.
Abigail Williams, a teenage girl, is the most powerful character in The Crucible. During the play she manages to gain control over all but one of the community. However, this person, John Proctor, subjected to Abigail’s power in the past as we find out later on and is the cause of much irony in act three. Abigail is Reverend Parris’ niece, his beliefs and his views of witchcraft change as the play progresses. He goes from being totally against witchcraft and tries in to avoid the subject to trying to convict many witches and those who try to stop the accusations in act three. I think that Parris does this is mainly for self-preservation.
The first act of self-preservation in the play was made by Abigail, she accused Tituba, Parris’ slave. I think that she blamed Tituba because she saw it as a way out. I think that when Hale grabbed her up close and asked if she ‘called the Devil’ she replied ‘I never called him! Tituba, Tituba…’ because it released the pressure off of her. The pressure being released and put onto Tituba meant that Abigail was free and was not under questioning.
The courts procedures were very strict in Salem. There were two judges, judge Hathorne and deputy-governor Danforth. Danforth strongly believes in the court and is stubborn in his beliefs; he thinks that people are scared of the court because they are guilty. He won’t listen to any reason that may lead him off his path. When Giles Corey’ proposes his deposition to save his wife (which said that Putnam manipulated the girls) is proposed in act three, Danforth sticks to the way he believes is right, the court. He says that he must go through the proper procedure and that he must ‘submit his evidence in proper affidavit’.
Miller puts Giles’ deposition in the play for two reasons. I think that the first is to show how difficult it is to be heard and that they could not protest their innocence, this foreshadows the later events. I think the second reason is to create time for the judges to read it. This time creates tension as the audience are waiting to see what will happen with Mary Warren’s deposition, which we know about from act two.
Arthur Miller builds up the tension in act three, he uses the tension of the conflict between Danforth, Parris and Hale near the begin and throughout. Theses are three men with different beliefs, rules and procedures, to achieve dramatic effects. He does this by using the conflict to give hope in the audience that the court will crumble. Later on in act three Miller creates tension by putting Danforth on the spot. He does this by putting Proctor on the scene with his deposition of the evidence of Mary Warren.
Again Miller creates tension because we already know from act one about Mary’s character. She is a shy, naï¿½ve and subservient girl who wanted to be honest from the start. In act one she says ‘Abby, we’ve got to tell. … We must tell the truth, Abby!’ however Abigail’s strong, threatening behaviour stopped her from owning up, we wonder whether Abigail will do this again.