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The courtroom scene of Act Three Essay

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How does Miller create tension and drama in the courtroom scene of Act Three? The crucible is about a mass hysteria which led to the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. A group of young girls are caught dancing in the woods and are suspected to of been calling out to the devil. Strange things begin to happen around the local village which are then suspected to be the work of the devil. Everyone in the village is to appear in court and faced with a death sentence.

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This fantastic and extremely tense play is written by Arthur Miller.

Throughout Act Three Danforth; the deputy governor, who is in his sixties and plays an important part, is introduced. He is very sophisticated and respectful. Danforth plays the part of a very loyal man in which he makes antagonising decisions. However he is a very strong character and has his own opinions without being easily persuaded. Danforth has high expectations of both himself and his people. ‘ I judge nothing of no one’ This tells the audience what Danforth’s character is like; a strong and noble man, and he will be looked upon as loyal man who has pride in which he can make his mind up for himself without listening to what others have to say.

During Act Three Mary Warren plays a main part of a quiet girl who is made to confess by John Proctor that they girls are faking it and being over powered by the devil. Mary Warren who works for the Proctors has a good reputation. She has never done wrong, and is a hard working quiet girl. Mary is forced into court by Proctor to confess the truth. She speaks short words which shows fear. ‘ it were pretence sir’ ‘ aye, sir.’

Mary’s weakness causes tension as she is a weak character being forced to speak out by Proctor. Proctor mainly speaks out for Mary who is eager for her to confess as his wife had been convicted of witchcraft. He believes she can save her and the rest of the innocent villagers who has wrongly been convicted. However things turn nasty for Mary, she is a weak young girl who is only trying to be honest, until things turn wrong for her and the rest of the girls pretend she is playing tricks on them.

Tension is brought here as Mary is such a feeble character and its Mary’s word against the girls, therefore she cant handle it all so changes her mind and decides that if she doesn’t act with the girls she will be hanged. Mary then confesses that Proctor is being possessed by the devil’ ( screaming at him) you’re the devils man’ This shows Mary to be unstable and unsure, she results in blaming it all on Proctor, who she knows is innocent, but has to play this act to save herself. She knows to blame this on Proctor as he has no proof that he’s not the devil himself. Mary has clearly used her initiative here which creates tension for the audience.

The community of Salem is very a hatred place between neighbours where vengeance is taken, despite the Bible’s charitable injunctions. Land-lust which had been expressed before constant bickering over boundaries and deeds, are elevated to the arena of mortality, where they cry witch against one’s neighbour and feel perfectly justified in the bargain.

Act three is a extremely tense scene which is dramatic through all of it. This is a great build up for the ending and is prepared well for the ending scene. Throughout act three several exciting dramatic scenes are raised and constant tension is built up. The crucible was written in the 1950’s. The fact that during the time in America suspected communists were being haunted and persecuted may have influenced Miller to write this fantastic play. The play is set in Massachusetts in 1692 when suspected witches were hunted, punished and even executed.

McCarthyism in America in the 1950’s played an important part of this play. Joseph McCarthy led un-American Activities Committee of the house of representatives and hunted down communist threats. No- one was ever safe. He was not interested in imprisoning people but ‘ naming names’. He wanted names of the people who were involved in communism. Those who refused were not allowed to word and faced imprisonment. McCarthyism influenced Miller a lot as he discovered his close friend agreed to ‘ name names’. Miller was disappointed and angry. However Miller in 1956 was accused himself of ‘ naming names’ he was fined for disobedience.

The Salem witch trials came about before the crucible was written. The Salem community was insecure and isolated. Arguments were raised with native Indians over land and rights. The town was ruled by Chureh and Christian rules were important. Accusations of witch trials were unusual but became common and rose to an epidemic. People were accused of being witches based of rumours and Salem witch trials in particular went out for months with no compensation to innocent people.

Miller chose the Salem witch trials to discuss McCarthyism because Salem trials and McCarthy people were convicted on little evidence. A chance for people to get their own back on people who annoyed them or accused harm in the past. This is what happens in the crucible. These two similarities combine well in the play. John Proctor appears in court to justify that his wife who has innocently been convicted of witchcraft is innocent after finding out that the truth about the girls. Proctor brought Mary with him as evidence. Other members of the court think of Proctor as a low man. This is because he doesn’t often go to church and ploughs on Sundays. Proctor also didn’t baptise his children. Proctor has a good reputation however is not liked by many around the village.

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