Ten Commandments


Hale begins to question Proctor about the 'Christian character' of his house to which Proctor simply replies that he has 'no fears of questions'. Miller is setting up the audience, at this point, for a major dramatic climax in the scene. Despite his 'no fears' comment, John appears uneasy when asked and tries to avoid questions of religious awareness and belief. Miller has planted hesitation in this play, like mines in a minefield; the most are trodden on in this scene and concentrated almost solely in John Proctor's dialogue.

Hale asks Proctor to recite the Ten Commandments to him. His unease is relatively transparent when he begins 'looking off' and 'counting on his fingers' the amount of commandments he says. Proctor says one commandment twice; " Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image."

Hale trying to 'define' commandment character

The commandment he misses out was 'Adultery.' Hale at this point would just look at Hale trying to 'define' his character but this in a sense is hypocritical as they are in a strict Christian society that believes there is only one Judge, God.

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Miller skillfully creates impeccable irony when doing this, as the audience knows that John has committed adultery himself and has his wife, whom was suspicious remind him of the commandment.

Miller also intelligently slots pauses, where needed, into John's dialogue when he is saying his commandments. This is a blatant attempt by Miller to give the audience a clue as to the outcome of his, nevertheless, sticky predicament.

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Miller's cleverly structured dialogue and sly hesitation and pause implants make this scene have an excellent dramatic content. This, however, varies to John's argument for not attending church, before the commandment scene.

Hale, claiming that John has only been to church on a 'rare' occasion, "Twenty-six times in seventeen month," introduces the drama for this part in the scene. The audience is starting to get the impression that John is holding something back from themselves and Reverend Hale, Miller manipulates this to his advantage and draws as much drama from this as possible. From this scene Proctors hate for Parris is revealed for the audience to see. He claims that he sees, 'no light of god in that man.'

A foundation for drama

Miller has done this as a foundation for drama to progress as he creates a tension trickling conversation between Hale and Proctor, where Hale is backing up Reverend Parris and John is telling him why he despises him so much. The audience's interest is kept at a peak with Proctor always finding the right words and previous events to battle Hale. The way that Miller has made John and Hale fight over Parris gives the audience a chance to decide whether a character in this play, Parris, is an image conscience reverend, shown by the insistence of 'golden candlesticks' in the church, which I believe him to be.

Or the audience can follow Reverend Hale who believes that Parris is a devout, ordained, pious member of the church. This is the first time that Hale is confronted with an honest description of Parris' so called, 'ordained' nature. This is why Hale finds Proctor's depiction so hard to believe at first but starts to come to terms with it afterwards. Miller has timed this scene accordingly. The audience is taken with the way Hale's dialogue is constantly interrupted, "Hale: I have no-, Proctor: I nailed the roof upon that church." Despite Hale's contradictions John clearly is triumphant and Hale swiftly moves on to the commandment scene. The tempo of the language fluctuates in this scene and has its highs and lows, which keeps the audience surprised, enthralled and eager to find out what happens next.

Following this, Hale's exit is delayed and there is an excruciating tension build up, with new stones being turned over and essential twists in the play. The audience is gifted with the knowledge that the girls are telling one tremendous lie because they want to modify the consequences from dancing in the woods. Hale is completely oblivious to this fact, which helps add to Miller's intended suspense. With this information the audience watching the play are left to find out how Hale will react and what he will do. The emotions of the audience are stirred up even more when they find that Hale, instead of believing this information; he starts to become suspicious again. "Why- why did you keep this?" Pauses also play a significant piece in this part of the scene, Hale is constantly hesitating and pausing.

The audiences is very confused at this point and do not know whether he is thinking suspiciously, doubtfully and this is also adding to sensational suspense that Miller is building for the audience. This is added to when Proctor tells Hale that he has 'no witness and cannot prove' what he is saying. What is Hale thinking? What will he say to this? How will he react? These are just some of the thoughts that Miller is trying to provoke in the audience by adding detail to Johns exclamation. When Hale says, "Sarah Good and numerous others have confessed to dealing with the devil," Hale believes he has outwitted Proctor and is lead to think that Proctor is lying after all.

Hale's scepticism about the witch

But Proctor tells Hale that they may as well confess ' if they must hang for denyin' it.' This also shows and justifies Hale's scepticism about the witch trials when he enters close to the beginning. The audience find that Hale is shocked, because all his own beliefs and conclusions are from the truthfulness of the confessions that the girls make. Hale's scepticism from before is shown in the stage direction, where Miller clearly writes, "It his own suspicion, but he resists it." Hale then has to accept that he was wrong and had been taken in by a melodramatic performance by a few teenage, adolescent girls.

Hale then attempts to convince Proctor to visit the court and testify. The chances of him going increase but he is still at doubt and 'had not reckoned with goin' into court.' Before Hale, who is still confused about the plot, can go he asks Proctor whether he believes in witches. Proctor says that he cannot deny them as the Bible speaks of them but is an obvious nonbeliever. He then approaches Elizabeth with the question. Elizabeth also has an interesting view about witchcraft. She says that if she is believed to be a witch she does not believe in them. Hale takes this the wrong way and blames Elizabeth of going, 'against the Gospel.'

When Giles Nurse enters the scene Proctor's views on testifying completely change. He hears of the charge and throws his views out of the window. This brings to light the theme of loyalty; Proctor is willing to allow the 'darkening' of his own name in order to save his friends wives. Miller has done this so that the audience draw themselves to Proctor's side because of the courage he shows. Vengeance is also shown to the audience since Putnam accused Nurse because he wants land, with Mr. Nurse out of the way his land is free to buy. The drama is built up; the situation for the Proctors becomes more threatening. The room is full of conflicting emotions as the scene progresses. The audience find out that the, 'very brick and mortar of the church,' Francis's wife is convicted, which adds an extra layer of drama to the scene. Her arrest shows the audience and the characters the scale that the hysteria has risen to.


It adds to the tension because it shows not even the most innocent people can be free from facing accusation and conviction. The crowd is given an even more prominent clue as to the chaos that Salem has been entrenched in. Miller introduces the first actual murder accusation here. This is very apt as the emotions that are being flung about in the household, good or bad, can be directed to the accusation of Francis's wife. The audience is kept in suspense, again, because Miller has prolonged the reason for the accusation of murder to make sure that everyone in the audience has caught up and knows what is happening, and to slow down the tempo of the story. Miller has thought ahead and by slowing down the story he has assisted the audience in finding a parallel between the accusation of Rebecca and the Putnam's ploy for land. The disheartened Mr. Francis explains that his wife has been charged for the labelled, 'supernatural murder of Goody Putnam's babies.'

Updated: Feb 22, 2021
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Ten Commandments. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/ten-commandments-6233-new-essay

Ten Commandments essay
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