Dramatic Climax Essay
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How Does Miller Create Interest in Act Three, the Dramatic Climax Of “The Crucible”? In Act Three of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”, tension rises in the courtroom of Salem as John Proctor, Giles and Francis strive to save the lives and respect of their wives. As the trials progress, the audience concentrate more on certain individuals and how they struggle to maintain power and authority in the courtroom.
Miller called his play “The Crucible” because a crucible is a container in which metals are heated to extract the pure element from dross or impurities.
In Act 3, John Proctor is tested in a life threatening ordeal and his choice of death rather than betrayal of his conscience shows us that he too has come through the fire to be purified. This creates interest because the comparison of Proctor’s situation and going through fire to be purified is powerful. ‘Going through fire’ emphasises on the pain he must suffer. The audience sympathise for his pain and suffering and so they are interested in Act 3 to see the consequences of the dramatic climax.
The main focus of Act 3 has to do with determining who will define innocence and guilt. Proctor makes one audacious gamble for this authority by finally overcoming his desire to protect his reputation, exposing an inner secret sin. He hopes to replace his wife’s blame with his own guilt and bring Abigail down as well in the process. He reveals his private life to examination, hoping to gain some authority, but he does not realise that the competition is high, people may show more energy in the delivery and presentation of their speech. Too many reputations are at stake and Proctor’s surprise comes too late to stop the avalanche. This also creates interest as Proctor is the protagonist who the audience are encouraged to focus on and sympathise with. Proctor making this audacious gamble interests the audience, builds up to whatever the outcome may be, the dramatic climax.
Desperation and persuasion are emotions involved within this act. There is a great deal of climax and suspense displayed using many different dramatic devices. Dramatic devices are made to engender interest in the audience. The dramatic devices present in this act seem to follow an order of operation, of starting with the least dramatic to the most dramatic. As more devices build up, more interest is likely to develop. The development of interest is then switched to the climax (turning point).
The act starts with a common device such as character interaction. Character interaction in Act 3 set in a courtroom is a lot different to usual character interaction: GILES (beginning to plead): They be tellin’ lies about my wife, sir, I- DANFORTH Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside? GILES Your Excellency, we mean no disrespect for- DANFORTH Disrespect indeed! It is disruption, Mister. This is the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know it?
The fact that Giles is cut off by Danforth before even managing to finish his sentence, shows that more power is on Danforth’s side whilst Giles is beginning to plead for freedom. It also shows that the pace of speech may be very quick as everyone is determined to get their message across. The effect that this gives is that questions and quick speeches build up suspense for answers. Also, Danforth interrogating Giles shows his authority and possession of power over him. The interrogation can also be seen as a dramatic device, it creates interest with the audience waiting for answers to the questions.
Another dramatic device is the use of vocal variety. When characters interact in a different way of speech, it shows there is a change of behaviour. It grabs the attention and suspense of the audience and makes them wonder to where this may lead to. An example: GILE’S VOICE (roaring) I have evidence for the court! As Giles is roaring, there is a great sense of energy in Giles’ voice, as if he were roaring like a lion. This contributes to the idea of getting the message across to the rest of the court members and the energy makes the audience feel more alert, just like a lion would. This makes the situation more interesting as roaring isn’t usually how Giles would react, so the audience are interested to know where the roaring would lead to.
In Act 3, based on the courtroom scene, body language, gestures and even facial expressions play a key role of grabbing the audience’s interest. These factors reveal the character’s personalities depending on what their actions are like. If a character’s actions are more open and broad, it may suggest that they are more confident and powerful. However, if a character’s actions are reserved and tightened, it may suggest that they are under-confident and weaker: PARRIS (sweating): These people should be summoned. (DANFORTH looks up at him questioningly.) For questioning.
As Parris is sweating, this shows that he is anxious about his decision of the people being summoned, but then gains back his confidence when Danforth looks up at him, so he answers back at Danforth’s questioningly look. This interests the audience as there is a change of behaviour within a character. Characters are at their upmost desperation for innocence and reputation, the matter of what is at stake and how do characters react really indulges itself into the drama. Death is at stake and characters are becoming more and more desperate progressing through the scene.
Since the storyline is based upon witch hunting in Salem, the girls who are shown to be witches act out in an eccentric manner. The hysteria of the girls is shown dramatic as it displays what separates the sane from the insane and really engages the interest of the audience. Being set in a courtroom would mean that character interaction is shown from all angles. There is power to be shifted from someone who is higher in authority, and has more arguments to clear themselves from any kind misjudgement to someone who is unable yet desperate to defend themselves.