1. To give sophisticated interpretations supported by concise textual analysis. 2. To show originality of analysis when evaluating the dramatic effects of character and action. 3. To show originality of analysis when evaluating dramatic devices and structures. 4. To show originality of analysis when evaluating the significance of the social, historical and cultural setting of the play. Evil has evolved with society since history began. In the times of the Salem Witch Trials evil was fire and brimstone, the Devil and witches.
Modern evils are perceived as paedophiles and the Osama Bin Ladens of the world. Less people in the 21st century have strong religious beliefs whereas religion was the backbone of 17th century society. Less people can be judged as good or evil on the grounds of religion and superstition nowadays. Theocracy ruled the courthouses. Instead, we judge people on their moral, social and psychological standing. In the 21st century people are judged by juries and the public. Seventeenth century society was ruled by an autocracy; only one person or a very small group of people had power in the community.
Often the great amount of power placed in these people’s hands would go to their heads and the community, whether it be a small town like Salem or a whole country, would be left in ruins. An example of autocracy in ‘The Crucible’ is Danforth taking over from Hale as head of the trials. Reverend Hale is the authority on the supernatural but is totally ignored because of Danforth’s audacity as a result of the abundance of power he entails. Evil is a topic often used by film directors and playwrights. Evil is dramatic, and the tension and excitement created by evil is what an audience likes to see.
Audiences will always enjoy the concept of evil because evil actions are forbidden in society. Inside all people is a destructive side that is repressed and during plays, films, and books these destructive fantasies can come alive. This is why plays such as ‘The Crucible’ are exciting and have such a cathartic effect on audiences. The narrator’s comments and references to each key character as they enter the play gives a historical insight into the inner workings of the Salem Witch Trials. It helps the audience to identify with the characters to produce a greater cathartic effect and thus make a more exciting, dramatic play.
The fact that ‘The Crucible’ is based upon real events is a shock to the audience. It highlights that human’s are not as smart as we believe. We may laugh at the idea of witches and the devil but in 300 years time, society may laugh at September 11th and our modern evils. Evil characters in ‘The Crucible’ destroy the lives of the good and place the evil in power. Abigail is revered in Salem. It is quoted that when she walks to the courthouse “The crowds part like the Red Sea for Moses”. She is seen as a religious icon by some, a profit clearing the town of evil. This is ironic in itself because we, the audience, can see this is not true.
The dramatic irony is that the audience can see Abigail’s true motives and the majority of characters are blinded by fear. This induces anger amongst the characters who understand what is really happening and the audience. Tension is created because of the underlying danger that faces the characters should they protest about the trials or witnesses. Miller’s purposes here are clearly to make the first act as exciting as possible for audiences. Arthur Miller also creates contrasts between characters to emphasise the differences between the evil characters and the good people.
Evil characters often speak ‘in a temper’. It is ironic how the evil characters can change their tone to manipulate other people. Abigail’s tone vacillates between a commanding, scary tone that she uses to rally the other girls together; to the sweet innocent tone she uses to manipulate adults and figures of authority. This transformation of language often makes the play very exciting when she is switching between tones. Pace is an important factor in any dramatic piece of writing. Pace vacillates alongside the progression of the plot in ‘The Crucible’.
In Act 1 the pace climaxes as the curtain falls with the noise of the girls shouting out names of those who compacted with the devil. Act 2 almost seems dull in comparison until news of Goody Proctor’s accusation reaches the farm and the pace reaches a new peak. The vacillation of pace in ‘The Crucible” could be compared to the dips and hills of a roller coaster. The upping of tension at the end of each act creates suspense and tension which makes the next act more exciting for audiences. The abrupt ending to the acts makes the play much more dramatic.
The inevitable death of John Proctor and the use of the phrase “The sun is soon up” to indicate the closeness of the hanging is a mark of the pace rising and tension amongst the audience building. It is my belief that the film detracts from the drama of the play because it does not induce the same sort of cathartic effect produced when you have to imagine the setting for yourself. The play leaves many aspects open for the mind to explore such as the killing of Abigail’s parents. Audiences have always enjoyed stories of good versus evil because they are often fast-paced, exciting and all the things society loves in a good story.
People who were read fairy tales as children remember the ‘goodies and baddies’, Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, Rapunzel and the witch. The good characters always prevailed in fairy stories. Lucrative plots and colourful advertising for the big Hollywood blockbusters add to the fun and excitement of watching. Many recent films have centered themselves around the supernatural indicating a link that the genre will never grow old. ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film are the two most recent examples of this.