The juxtaposition between tension and relief is present throughout most of Act 3 e.g. as questions may raise awareness and the answers may release relief: A roaring goes up from the people HATHORNE’S VOICE Arrest him, Excellency! GILES’ VOICE I have evidence. Why will you not hear my evidence? Since this roaring has become more of a silence to hear what Giles may have to say about his evidence shows the comparison of the courtroom being aggressive (tension) to a calmer yet concentrated atmosphere (relief).
What is at stake and how do the characters react? Characters would become anxious for life and avoid death or imprisonment at all costs: FRANCIS We are desperate, sir; we come here three days now and cannot be heard DANFORTH Who is this man? Characters become nervous and begin to hesitate with respect towards the higher rank of Danforth, so at all costs for respect and life.
The hysteria of the girls is unusual to an extent of believing this drama to be real or not.
Building up interest for the climax really begins here: DANFORTH Have you compacted with the devil? Have you? MARY Never, never! GIRLS Never, never! The crescendo of the girls repeating Mary’s words in a courtroom brings a surprise for the audience as general public in the courtroom seemed shock in an over-exaggerated way. It almost prepares the audience that a greater shock may follow. Also the use of archaic language grabs attention, as words are used which are no longer used as much.
‘Compacted’ meaning to work with, emphasises on the power of Danforth’s speech because the word ‘compacted’ may show Danforth’s intelligence to intimidate the girls.
The power shifts to Mary after Proctor has lost the will and power to fight for any longer: PROCTOR (as Danforth’s wide eyes pour on him): Mary! Mary! MARY (screaming at him): No, I love God, bless God. (Sobbing, she rushes to Abigail.) Abby, Abby, I’ll never hurt you more! (They all watch, as Abigail, out of her infinite charity, reaches out and draws the sobbing Mary to her, and then looks up to Danforth.)
Mary who is supposed to support Proctor is actually moving to the side which is more beneficial for her. So by rushing back to Abigail, she feels more power is being shifted from Proctor to her. This is interesting for the audience to see the other side of her personality in the courtroom, to notice changes in the storyline. Also the audience sympathise as Proctor has lost his ‘icey witness’ to support his argument.
Finally the climax was to change everything which it indeed did as Proctor admits to the sin and he is take away and the audience is left shocked by this random decision of him giving himself up, suspense is left off from there for people to find out what is to happens in the next Act: PROCTOR (his mind wild, breathless): I say- I say- God is dead! Proctor stuttering also makes an impact as people are eager to find out what he has to say. Miller wrote the play set in the time of Puritans, the actual events that, in 1692, led to the Salem Witch Trials. As the Puritans were believed to be extremely religious, Miller has shown the impact of the strong words said by Proctor and how vigorously the Puritans react to it by sentencing Proctor to death.
The play was written in the early 1950s during the time of McCarthyism, when the US government blacklisted accused communists. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956. Arthur Miller wrote; “I had read about the witchcraft trials in my college, but it was not until I read a book published in 1867 by Charles Upham, who was then the mayor of Salem that I knew I had to write about the period”. Once in Salem, he soon realized that what happened there in the seventeenth century was happening again now. Arthur Miller wrote: “The more I read into the Salem panic, the more it touched off corresponding ages of common experiences in the fifties”.
The same terror, which disturbed Salem citizens in the spring of 1692, was paralysing the United States. Actors were replacing Salem citizens, Communists were replacing witches, and Danforth turned over his court to McCarthy and the HUAC. One plot made way to another. Lucifer must have joined Karl Marx. Evidence was accepted during 1692’s trials, and so were allegations during McCarthy’s hearings. Arthur Miller also wrote: “The old friend of a blacklisted person crossed the street to avoid being seen talking to him”, the same way as Giles Corey did not dare to name other names, since his wife was now in jail because he gave her name.
At the time that the play was produced (1953), the audience would have found it easier to relate to the play because of the events happening at the time made for obvious comparisons between ‘The Crucible’ and ‘McCarthyism’. This also creates major interest, as it was related to the political situation at the time. However nowadays, the audience would still be interested as ‘McCarthyism’ was a part of history. “The Crucible” is still a popular play and is largely performed in countries where there is a strong feeling of political oppression because the play helps to acknowledge and release an audience’s feelings of fear and anger. To conclude of Act 3, my own personal opinion on the most dramatic part would be the climax, “God is dead”, because Proctor is shown as a heroic character to say something so simple yet effective at the time when religion really did matter. It is his realisation he has failed at his moment of crisis.
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