The Crucible: Arthur Miller builds up tension for the audience by a skilful use of dialogue, dramatic speeches, entrances and actions. By discussing at least one example of each from Act Two say how he does this. Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ is set in Salem, Massachusetts where they didn’t understand either medicine or science. They thought when someone became ill it was because either God was punishing them or witchcraft was at work. The Crucible is based on a group of teenage girls who are discovered dancing naked in the woods, playing with witchcraft.
When the girls realised how severe their punishment would be, they claimed other members of the community possessed them. There was no defence against witchcraft. If people denied it they were hung, as they believed they were possessed by the devil. If people admitted it they were put in jail. Anyone who was accused had his or her life ruined. The group of girls lead by Abigail Williams began accusing perfectly innocent members of the community of witchcraft.
Usually the people accused were outcasts such as beggars or old women who lived alone, but respectable women were finding they too were being accused. Take Elizabeth Proctor, she was accused because Abigail Williams wanted her out of the way so she could continue her affair with her husband John Proctor. In Act two there is an immense row between Elizabeth and John Proctor about two main points: the fact that Elizabeth has been accused and Johns affair with Abigail. Miller expresses their anger by the vulgar language they use, the exclamations and the questions asked.
“Then you go and tell her she’s a Whore. Whatever promise she may sense – break it, John, break it. ” This was what Elizabeth said to John. This would astound the audience because Elizabeth was a respectable woman and would not be expected to use such ill-mannered language. The fact that Elizabeth had used such language would make the audience unbelievably stunned; it would also increase the tension tremendously. Not only dose Elizabeth use foul language she orders John to go and break the relationship between Abigail and himself.
This shows Elizabeth’s anger, as she is livid and not asking but ordering John to do as she wishes. Elizabeth’s anger is also shown by the use or repetition: “Oh, the noose, the noose is up! ” Elizabeth is scared as she has been accused and thinks she is going to be hung. She is hysterical and this is shown with the use of exclamations and repetition. This too would make the audience anxious. Half way through Act 2 there is an enormous burst of stimulation and apprehension for the audience.
This is when Giles and Francis burst in on a particularly anxious moment between John, Elizabeth and Hale. Giles and Francis intensify the tension by announcing the startling news that both their wives have been arrested. This comes as a shock because both their wives are exceptionally respectable women. The tension is show by the respondents using exclamations. “Rebecca’s in the jail! ” This comes as a shock because like Elizabeth, Martha and Rebecca are highly regarded women. Now they have been arrested there is a grater chance that Elizabeth too will be arrested.