Explore how miller creates tension between john and Elizabeth in this section. The language between the 2 of them stays always quite superficial, not talking of anything too deep. They both are constantly trying to please one another, but there is the everlasting image of disappointment when johns efforts are coldly rejected Elizabeth. She “receives” his kiss. She remains quite passive. John “is not pleased” with the meal, and the marriage is not quite right either [cider?
] “It’s winter in here yet”. The coldness of their household, the lack of warmth John starts on an optimistic note, with the talk of the beautiful spring, as he longs for the new year and the new start to their lives. The lilacs show the colour of love, as john, yet again, tries to almost woo her While john can “absorb the night” thinking about the new beginnings, Liz carries on the sense of separation as she “would speak, but cannot”.
She wants to forgive him, to just tell him how much she loves him, but the situation is so fragile now that she cannot do anything that could upset the balance. By her feeble attempts to avoid the tension, by busying herself with housework, it actually emphasises the tension of the situation. “Her back is turned to him” John m is looking out on their future, while she inwardly looks back on the past. “A sense of their separation arises” – the stage directions really put it bluntly for those who haven’t yet realised the situation in this relationship.
Liz has a direct honesty, which is usually the cause of the friction as she always shows her suspicions to john, he knows that she never forgets his affair, and that no matter how long he has separated himself form Abby, she will always wonder if he has been with her. She needs him to prove his loyalty to her, but still in his heart he has a soft spot for Abby. Liz knows he loves her, but she cannot trust him, as she can see, almost better than john can, that he still has some link to Abby.
You can feel his desperation in his attempts to salvage their relationship, and you can feel how much Liz wants to forgive him. But when she finds out about John and Liz being alone together, she cannot help but to “lose all faith in him” “An everlasting funeral marches around your heart” John thinks part of Liz is dead inside, and that is why she cannot forgive him. But really it can be seen as a ploy to get Liz to feel guilty, to make john look like the good guy. He tries to take the moral high ground
But as she says so poignantly, “the magistrate sits in your heart that judges you”. She can’t forgive him until he forgives himself. Elizabeth is so cold that “her justice could freeze beer”. Proctor shows great remorse in confessing to Elizabeth about his relationship with Abigail, and seems to suggest a lack of want to confess to other things-perhaps? There are many references to being judged in this extract, and as we see later in the play, John is the only one who is in control of his fate.
He is the one that holds the magistrate in his heart that judges him. The poignancy of her remark means that the tension is emphasized with johns bitter comeback, “your justice would freeze beer”. They are living on relationship knife edge, and the sharpness of this conversation does accentuate the tension. The end of this extract leaves the audience expecting a long, awkward pause to follow, where the tension would of course build tremendously until one of them managed to break the silence.
Miller has a fantastic skill of making these tragically tense moments and then bringing in the action to break it. Significant subtext of tension that remains between the couple that is undoubtedly caused by Proctor’s affair with Abigail Williams. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.