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Arthur Miller brings the scene to its climax by the entrance of Ezekiel Cheever. “Enter Ezekiel Cheever. A shocked silence.” Tension rises dramatically as the audience are aware that he is a member of the court and therefore any thing to do with him would mean trouble. When he mentions that he has come with an arrest warrant for Elizabeth there is great anxiety and fear amongst the audience and the characters. Cheever starts searching the house and all of a sudden he finds the poppet.
Cheever: “Why a poppet – (he gingerly turns the poppet over)- a poppet may signify…” Arthur Miller keeps the audience in suspense by delaying Cheever’s actions.
Hale: “What signifies a poppet, Mr Cheever?” Cheever does not respond to any of the questions asked to him and it is as if he is in a trance. This is a very nerve-racking moment for both the audience and the characters as they are filled with apprehension.
Cheever: “(turning the poppet over in his hands) Why, they say it may signify that she- (He has lifted the poppet’s skirt, and his eyes widen in astonished fear.) Why this, this-” Even though Cheever does not reply to any of the questions, the audience can tell that something is wrong by his actions and expression. This builds up tension and the audience would be practically at the edge of their seats prolonged in anguish. Proctor: (angrily, bewildered) and what signifies a needle!” As well as using action Arthur Miller uses repetition to build up the suspense and tension.
The repetition shows that the characters are curious to know what Cheever finds so shocking about the needle and poppet.
Ezekiel Cheever is certain that Elizabeth’s spirit stuck the needle inside Abigail Williams. To prove this he has the poppet as evidence. The tension increases drastically as the poppet was given to Elizabeth by Mary Warren, one of the girls testifying against the witch trials and now Elizabeth’s outcome depends on Mary Warren. Arthur Miller raises the tension even more by adding Johns’ outburst. Proctor: “We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrant’s vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to vengeance!” The image of the keys builds tension as the audience can clearly see that what John has said is true. The children have the power and control over this whole situation, and are slowly by slowly manipulating the people. The repeated use of the word ‘vengeance’ is very effective as it clearly highlights the real reason behind the witch trials.
Elizabeth’s actions opposed to john are calm and composed. “Mary, there is bread enough for the morning; you will bake in the afternoon. When the children wake, speak nothing of witchcraft- it will frighten them. Elizabeth shows that needless of what situation she is in her first priority is her family. She shows strength and does not allow her weaker emotions to take over. The audience feels sympathy towards her as.
As the scene comes to an end, Arthur Miller for the final time raises the tension by the way John treats Mary Warren. Proctor: (moving menacingly toward her) “You will tell the court how that poppet come here and who stuck the needle in.” The words John uses are very demanding. Although the audience are aware that he has a bad temper it is very shocking as they have not seen him this disturbed. “(He throws her to the floor, where she sobs, ‘I cannot I cannot…)”
The audience fear for Mary Warren by the way John is treating her. His violent actions are very effective, and although he is fighting for an innocent cause the audience fear him as they are uncertain of how far he will go.”(Grasping her by the throat as though he would strangle her)” “My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but the goodness will not die for me!” The audience at this stage would be absolutely aghast, As well as feeling sorry for him they are aware that he is capable of anything. The language suggests that he is mentally and emotionally disturbed and will go to any lengths to rescue his wife. In act two I think Arthur Miller has succeeded in portraying how paranoia and hysteria can destroy lives and bring destruction to a whole community through the use of dialogue, entrances and actions. By building up the suspense and tension he has skillfully created a mixture of emotions for both the audience and characters which keeps the excitement going.
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