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The Crucible Essay Questions And Answers

Show how Arthur Miller creates a powerful dramatic effect in The Crucible.

Miller uses a variety of different techniques to create a powerful dramatic effect. He uses the structure of the play, especially its opening and its climax, in ways that grip the audience's attention. He also creates a strong sense of fear and hysteria which is very infectious between the characters themselves and between the characters and audience in the theatre. His characterisation adds significantly to the impact of the drama, especially in the contrasts and clashes that he depicts.

The opening of the play immediately grips the audience. A child is lying motionless on a bed and a clergyman is kneeling beside her praying, but he conveys no sense of religious calm and faith. He is weeping and desperate. He cries out, "Oh my God! God help me!" and he is very disturbed. When a black woman, Tituba the household slave, enters the clergyman is in a state of "fury" and yells, "Out of here! Out of my sight!" then is "overcome with sobs". Miller is careful to specify in the stage directions just how the actor should portray the lines. The opening is powerful and dramatic. Within a few short lines we also hear that the child Betty's illness may be due to "unnatural causes", a frightening expression in the context of the period, and one which clearly scares Reverend Parris. The tension increases for the audience when the clergyman seems to want a cover up of the truth: "Go directly home and speak nothing of unnatural causes."

1. Why could Abigail be considered a mean character?

Abigail could be considered a mean character because she seems to be a trouble maker and has been involved in the events in the forest which made Parris' daughter sick.

2. Is Parris's main concern only for his daughter's health?

Parris is concerned about his daughter's health, but he is also concerned (perhaps more so) about his reputation in Salem.

3. Were Betty and Abigail really just dancing in the forest?

Betty and Abigail were doing more than dancing in the forest. Mrs. Putnam put Betty and Abigail up to trying to contact the dead. Abigail even drank a charm to try to kill Elizabeth Proctor.

4. Why did Mrs. Putnam ask Ruth and Tituba to go into the forest?

Mrs. Putnam asked Ruth and Tituba to participate in witchcraft as a way to discover why her children keep dying in childbirth.

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