Rebecca Nurse is sympathetic to Betty’s illness, and the plea for quiet provides a strong contrast to the hectic action which has surrounded the girls. The tension is decreased as everyone quietens down. Rebecca is also perceptive in her understanding of young teenage girls, “their silly seasons” and she uses common sense and says the whole affair is “just a bit silly” and that it is only child’s play.
From “I think she’ll” to “it will soon itself back,” she comments on the fact that “A child’s spirit is like a child” meaning that the spirit will be mischievous, but if you “love” it, the spirit will come back and be itself, revealing that she is wise and therefore respected in the community. Tension rises as characters on stage disagree about issues of land and witches. Reverend Hale, an intellectual man who has studied witchcraft in depth, arrives at Parris’s house. The entrance of Hale immediately shows that he has high authority as he is seen carrying “half a dozen heavy books” which he says are “with authority.Order now
” His entrance creates rest and quietness. However, the audience are aware of the characters and their tensions. Just before Procter leaves he say’s “I’ve heard you to be a sensible man, Mr Hale. I’ll hope you’ll leave some of it in Salem”. This shows that Proctor is a man of logic and does not believe in witchcraft. Hale is an expert in the specialist field of witchcraft. He thinks that he has high authority because there are not many people who have specialised in this field. He talks in a calm and clever manner which brings reassurance to the character, “Here is an ail the invisible word, caught, defined and calculated.
” In this part of the play, the tension seems to have abated, however, individual characters still have their tensions. Hale questions Abigail, Betty, and Tituba. He asks Betty “does something afflict you child? ” This builds up dramatic tension because witchcraft is being mentioned and when Betty does not reply. Hale, “his eyes narrowing” asks Abigail about the dancing in the forest. She replies “common dancing is all”. More tension when Parris tells Hale that he “saw a kettle in the grass where they were dancing”. The pace quickens and tension continues to mounts as Hale continuously questions Abigail.
This is depicted in the play by the character’s lines becoming shorter, “That were only soup. ” She denies any sort of witchcraft. The audience can clearly see that Abigail is slipping deeper and deeper into trouble as she keeps lying and denying. This increases the tension further more. When she cannot cope anymore, she blames Tituba “I never called him! Tituba, Tituba… ” When Mrs Putnam brings in Tituba she is “shocked and angry” and shouts “Abby! ” Before Tituba can say anything, Abigail accuses her that “She makes me drink blood” This rise in tension is now at its peak.
All three of them, Parris, Mrs Putnam and Hale, start howling at Tituba, “Blood!! “; “My baby’s blood? “; “enlisted these children for the Devil? ” Tituba is terrified by all three of them and is willing to say anything to make everyone happy, “No, no sir, I don’t truck with no Devil! ” Tituba admits to witchcraft and says to Abigail, “you beg me to conjure! She beg me make charm-” Abigail is now terrified and wants to merge into the background, “I want to open myself”. Both Abigail and Betty start to shout out accusations at random people in the village.
Hale accepts these accusations, but the girls get carried away and start to accuse more people, “Alice Darrow”, “Goody Hawks”, “Goody Bibber”, Goody Booth” and so on. The tension is broken, the last part is highly dramatic, and the act finishes with the “ecstatic cries” of the girls. The words have qualities that are natural to the time in which Miller ‘set’ his play although not applicable to the present day. The characters appear to have respect and dignity due to the langue used a derivation of English. Their titles, “Goody” suggest to us a ‘distance’ in relationships which we are not familiar to us today.
Other ways of speaking ‘I am thirty-three time in court in my life’, are used by judge and peasants alike. All this demonstrates another way of life-in other era. The use of metaphors “sweating like a stallion”, the readers would expect from people whose daily readings was the Bible. With this knowledge, the language used, “I have made a bell of my honour” does not sound out of context for the time. It is the language which heightens tension and importance throughout and experiences the important themes in the play which Miller is trying to express throughout.
This is powerful drama which shows the break down of a society. The Act ends in a dramatic fashion contrasting with the beginning which was quieter and slower. The act is filled with intense conflict and much tension. The act has unity of place as it all happened in Parris’s home. The background and characters are revealed through the whole prose commentary, dialogue, and actions. Miller uses the Salem Witch Hunt as his way of commenting on McCarthyism in the 1950’s, his own time.