At the beginning of this extract Miller has the court set out and ready to spring a dramatic effect as he has the basis for it already set up with the accusations of Mary Warren that Abigail and the girls are feigning spirits in order to carry out slander campaigns led by jealousy and envy towards the accused. Danforth begins the extract in the most powerful position in the courtroom; he is in control and he is asking the questions with little interruption from others residing in the court.
Miller cleverly rotates this position of power full circle around the room during this extract as the power shifts onto Abigail when she diverts the courts attention from herself onto Mary Warren by claiming that she is sending her spirit onto her and the girls then over to Proctor when he accuses Abigail of leading a “whore’s vengeance” after admitting to the crime of lechery. The power of the room ultimately falls into the hands of Elizabeth when she is asked if whether to her knowledge John was an adulterer.
After her denial of this the power shifts all the way back round to Danforth and his accusations of Proctor’s lying and attempted contempt of the court, completing a full circle. This is a very clever dramatic effect which Miller also uses throughout the play in different scenes such as the scene of Elizabeth’s arrest in the Proctor household where the power shifts between her, John Proctor and Reverend Hale.
The language inside the courthouse changes almost with every different characters involvement in the scene. Danforth being in the highest position judging over the case is keen to keep the language in a formal tone throughout the proceeding, mainly speaking to ask questions of and to the accuser or accused.
Parris however is constantly interrupting Danforth’s speech in order to make accusations or comment which put pressure on Proctor or Mary Warren, for example when he asks Mary Warren to faint in front of the court to prove that she was faking the spirits in court previously; “Now there are no spirits attacking her, for none in this room is accused of witchcraft. So let her turn herself cold now, let her pretend she is attacked now, let her faint. Faint” This immediately puts unnecessary pressure on Mary Warren to please the court, something that she is unable to do. Mary Warren’s language is very simple and short.
She does not want to be involved in this affair and it seems she is not willing to partake in these games that Parris and Danforth are giving her the central role in, because she is terrified and bewildered at the whole ordeal which has put her under enormous pressure to say the correct things in order to save herself and Proctor, we can link this to the McCarthyism of the 1950’s, the basis of which Arthur Miller wrote the play, The Crucible and how vulnerable those people who were accused of communism were and that McCarthy and other members of HUAC could play on this vulnerability in order for them to name others who they expected to be communists.