Character, language and dramatic devices to create tension And explore the plays social and historical context. The Crucible is the study in the mass hysteria which led to the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials, concentrating on the fate of some of the key figures caught up in the persecution. It powerfully depicts people and principles under pressure, and the issues and motivations involved. At the same time it is also clearly a parable for the events of the McCarthy era in the USA of the 1950s when anyone suspected of left wing views was arraigned for ‘ un American activities’
‘The Crucible’ consists of many dramatic acts involving a lot of tension but Act III is significant to the whole play as it involves a lot of dramatic irony and anxiety. Act III is opened with a build up a tension from the previous act where Elizabeth Proctor is accused of witchcraft and taken away by the court. This immediately builds up tension to the next act as the audience wait for the trial. The structural importance is an important key aspect involved in Act III as it creates tensions and contrasts in with the next event.
This creates the right atmosphere for upcoming episodes such as the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and what influence it could have on her fate. Act III consists of many emotions such as guilt, regression, anger and hope. Each character changes within the act depending on their individual circumstances. Proctor is known to be a good man but then he is forced to admit to adultery, his wife Elizabeth a very honest woman is forced to lie for her husband and Abigail still continues the same throughout Act III with her dramatic character unable to change in her circumstances.
In the opening of Act III Giles, an elderly but honest farmer is being held and forced into the vestry by Herrick, Hale enters and sees the aggravation that this is causing Giles and tells them both to be calm. “They’ll be hanging’ my wife! ” Giles reveals that his wife is to be hanged; this signals tension that a argument is about to come in between some of the characters Giles’s entrance creates elements of suspense and tension. We first see this when he breaks in roaring “I have evidence for the court”.
His tone and straight to the point language suggests that he is desperate to save his wife despite the fact he is in a court room and his behaviour is not acceptable. The fact that he claims he has evidence builds up tension in the audience as to whether or not this can change the trial. Judge Harthone, a hard and unforgiving man then enters shouting at Giles for creating such a scene “Arrest him Excellency! ” by Harthone’s commands we see his superiority. Danforth and Giles then have a disputed conversation where Giles gets pretty upset and he is “beginning to weep” as shown in the stage directions on page 69.
Giles’s break down shows that he has broken down from anger to weeping from the desperation to save his wife from being hanged by speaking in her defence. “Your hearing lies, lies! ” Giles’s use of language is very concise and shows that he is not wasting any time by showing respect to the court, this builds up a lot of tension as his behaviour is the opposite to Francis, Giles’s approach is very dramatic. The suspense lies within the audience to whether or not his behaviour will have any effect on his wife’s trial. Francis’s approach to pleading for his wife is very different; he is calm and polite showing respect to the jury.
Francis shocks Danforth as he speaks on his wife’s behalf Rebecca Nurse accusing the girls’ of “deceiving the court we have proof of it sir, they are all deceiving you”. Yet again, this builds up more tension to whether his evidence will save his wife. The whole episode of Giles and Francis speaking up for their wives’ builds up tension and suspense to whether their words or evidence could have an impact on the trial. They are completely on their own fighting for their wives’ this shows how hard it was for innocent people to try and prove their innocence back in the 1950’s, against people with power like Danforth’s.