When we are first introduced to John Proctor, we discover that he’d had an affair with his family servant, Abigail Williams, when his wife Elizabeth was ill. Elizabeth finds out about the affair and dismisses Abigail. The first scene in which John and Elizabeth Proctor are seen speaking is very tense and cold. The sentence length, punctuation and stage craft all add to the tension. For example when John asks “Are you well today?” and Elizabeth simply replies ” I am.”
Also when John has finished eating, the stage direction explicitly shows the coldness between the couple; ‘…she takes up his plate and glass and fork and goes with them to the basin. Her back is turned to him. He turns to her and watches her. A sense of their separation arises.’ We can clearly see that all the passion and love they originally had been lost. We learn of their past closeness that has been fractured by John’s betrayal of his wife. The intrigues the audience and creates a lot of tension as the audience can sense hostility between the couple.Order now
The audience first meet the Proctors in their house, a deliberately chosen domestic setting where John is returning from work and Elizabeth has prepared his meal. Even though they are both speaking in very short, sharp sentence it seems that they are both trying to put their marriage back together, and that there is still some love between the couple. For example the stage direction; ‘He gets up, goes to her, kisses her. She receives it’. This shows how their love is still apparent yet is still cold and hostile. This causes the audience to become envolved in their relationship as they begin to wonder, whether or not John and Elizabeth will be able to rekindle their love for one another, causing the audience to be captured by their relationship.
As the play progresses the Proctors seem to go on an invisible journey. Their affection and loyalty towards one another grows continuously. The two kisses between the Proctors symbolises this growth in passion between the couple, and how their relationship changes through the play. It starts with a peck on the cheek, when Elizabeth receives the first kiss, and she moves away, but as the plot unfolds, they become closer and closer and their kiss at the end, initiated by John Proctor, is passionate.
The couple have to go through many hard situations in the play that brings them closer together and helps to rekindle their love for one another. For example when in court, John confesses to having an affair with Abigail, he says that his wife sacked her due to the affair. John says that his wife has never lied in the life, and would therefore tell the truth. The court decides to ask Elizabeth about the affair. When she is brought into the court room the tension begins to build. John and Abigail are asked to turn around so they cannot communicate with Elizabeth, which further increases the tension.
When Elizabeth is asked why she sacked Abigail, she searches for an answer, she tries to look at John for an answer however is quickly stopped by the Judge. She then says that the reason for her sacking Abigail was due to her not fulfilling her duties, and was therefore not due to an affair between John and Abigail. This shows how John and Elizabeth’s relationship had grown. She would rather lie, than tarnish her husbands name, as she knows how important his name is too him.
This can cause the audience to feel great empathy towards the couple as the audience realises how close the couple have become and how their love has been rekindled. The audience also begin to realise Elizabeth’s true personality. They feel great admiration for Elizabeth and can now see how she has great integrity and loyalty towards her husband. This is another example of how ‘The Crucible’ is an allegorical text as the themes are continuously being explored through many different characters and scenes. Miller is able to create this reaction from the audience by using such effective stage craft and short sentences.
Towards the end of Act Four, the couple’s true love is shown through their last moment together. John is going to be hung. Both John and Elizabeth are very emotional at this point. The stage directions show how time has almost frozen, “as though they stood in a spinning world. It is beyond sorrow, above it”. The stage directions also help to create tension, and to help the audience empathise with the characters.
“He halts inside the doorway, his eye caught by the sight of Elizabeth…” The audience are able to empathise with John and Elizabeth, as they can feel the tension and emotions flowing between the couple; and this is emphasised when there is a pause. This is a very effective piece of stage craft as it creates anticipation within the audience as like John and Elizabeth they can see the tragic end is inevitable, and are powerless to do anything about it.
The language used is also very affective. They couple are simply talking about the most important people in their life, the children. They are only concerned about family, which is very important to them. They both speak in short lines, for example “The child” with a reply from Elizabeth “It grows”, and from this we can see that the couple are anticipating each other’s words which show their closeness. The punctuation is also very effective in building tension.
For example there are many hyphens and pauses which build tension as it slows the delivery of lines and engage the audience. The sentence length also adds to the apprehension. Both John and Elizabeth are talking in short sharp sentences as they only have a short amount of time to talk, and need only to talk about the children, and this prevents them from speaking about the death sentence and their feelings.
John Proctor is suspected of which craft. He is given the chance to confess, if he confesses then he will not be hung. Despite the fact that John doesn’t want a bad name, a name associated with which craft, he decides to confess. “I want my life…I will have my life”. The language used; “I want” and “I will” is very demanding, as though john is insisting on having his life, and is not intimidated by the situation. This shows how John is desperate to live, he wants to bring up his children, and have a family.
Also the repetition of “I” and “my life” emphasises John’s eagerness to live. When Danforth asks “did you see the devil?” and “did you bid to do his work upon the earth?” John replies “I did”. This language creates an impact on audience as they realise John’s strength of character and begin to see how he challenges the authority. This is when John Proctor confesses to having dealt with the devil. To confirm his confession John has to sign a parchment that is to be hung on the church door, to allow the entire village to know that he had been dealing with the devil.
After John has confessed he begins to change his mind. He does not want to sign the parchment, “you have witnessed it – it is enough”. However signs it as he wants his life. Then all of a sudden, something changed in John’s mind, “Proctor has just finished signing when Danforth reaches for the paper. But proctor snatches it up”. This shows how the stage craft helps to create an affect on the audience as they feel great empathy towards John as they realise he would rather die, than have his name tarnished for all to see. When Danforth asks John for the signed confession, “if you please sir” John replies “no”.