Miller presents the court officials to show the audience the seriousness of the accusations. Miller shows emotion in Cheever and Herrick and the audience can tell they know what they are doing to Elizabeth is wrong. Herrick: In God’s name John, I can not help myself. I must chain them all. The court officials are an extra burden on the already struggling Elizabeth, as she must defend herself against the “poppet” accusation. Miller’s use of stage directions when Elizabeth is confronted reveals her nervousness and anxiety, as she fears for her live.
The audience will feel compassionately towards Elizabeth as recognises Abigail’s motive; “She wants me dead John, you know it. ” (she sits trembling) The situation is now clear; Elizabeth will suffer at the hands of the cruel Abigail. The audience’s sympathy for Elizabeth again builds when she is being taken away. Her maternal qualities shine through as she is more concerned about her children than her own safety. Elizabeth: (with great fear): I will fear nothing.
(She looks around the room, as though to fix it in her mind) Tell the children I have gone to visit someone sick. Her sensitivity towards others ensures that the audience pity the innocent character. In the courtroom we learn the only light present is from two high windows, “As the curtain rises, the room is empty, but for sunlight pouring through two high windows in the back wall. ” The darkness of courtroom symbolises the fact that what is happening here is not God’s work. “The room is solemn” creating an atmosphere that is bleak, strict and intimidating.
Miller may do this to suggest to the audience the helplessness of the situation; like the light, the innocent characters have little hope within such an oppressive and threatening environment. Miller shows John asking the officials questions and talking of God. Parris: Do you read the Gospel, Mr Proctor? Proctor: I read the Gospel. Parris: I think not, or you should surely know that Cain were an upright man and yet he did kill Abel. Proctor: Aye, God tells us that. (To Danforth) But who tells us Rebecca Nurse murdered seven babies by sending out her spirit on them?
This emphasises the distance between what is good and what is evil to accentuate the vulnerability and isolation of certain characters. A significant point in the courtroom scene is that Miller makes the physical distancing between characters particularly prominent. As Elizabeth enters the court the climax of the scene is reached; “She stands alone her eyes looking for John” By placing Elizabeth alone, Miller increases the tension as well as the sympathy for the character as she is seen to be weak and without the support and comfort of others.
Similarly, Miller positions Mary Warren away from the other girls reinforcing her lone position when she decides to admit the truth. The audience can see that there is no link of friendship between Abigail and Mary. The fact Abigail has many other girls in support shows her to be strong; she has gained a greater power and the victim has become isolated. Building up an even greater fear in Mary is the constant reminder of the consequences; “Her neck will break for it” Her short distressed answers in reply to Danforth’s questions are “hardly audible.
” The questions are used by Miller to indicate Mary Warren’s weakness, she is too afraid to accuse Abigail because she is intimidated by Danforth’s relentless questioning and unsympathetic attitude. The intensity of the situation encourages the audience to feel greater sympathy for those who have to face the interrogations alone. Danforth’s scepticism creates tension as John’s words could prove Abigail a fraud, consequently ruining Danforth’s reputation. Abigail can direct the attention away from herself when questioning becomes too intense.
Miller uses her apparent power within the court to show her manipulative nature. This is particularly evident when Abigail Williams a servant girl threatens Deputy-Governor Danforth, the most powerful court official. Abigail: (in an open threat) Let you beware, Mr Danforth. Think you be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits? By presenting Abigail as a threatening character Miller reinforces the power of the character, which reveals how easily the lies and false accusations were able to undermine the stability of Salem.
Miller depicts Danforth as a frightening character, Danforth: (pounding it into her) You have seen the Devil, you have made compact with Lucifer, have you not? This portrayal suggests that, despite his determination, John will not convince him of the truth. Consequently the audience may realise that hope is lost for those who are suffering. Danforth knows that if Abigail is found guilty his name will be tarnished so it is in his own best interests to find her innocent. In the court it seems that those accused are guilty until proven innocent.
The audience can see John is in a difficult position which Miller uses to indicate the horror of his position in such a rigid judicial system. Proctor: (trembling, his life collapsing around him) I have known her, sir. I have known her. The climax of the scene is when Elizabeth enters the courtroom. Miller’s use of disjointed and stilted speeches, is coupled with frequent pauses, indicating the character’s nervousness, Elizabeth: Your Honour, I – in that time I were sick. And I – my husband is a good and righteous man…
Under such pressure it is understandable that characters will break down. Yet Elizabeth’s resolve to remain loyal to her husband ironically sees her denounce him to a hushed and vigilant courtroom, Elizabeth: (faintly) No, sir Danforth: Remove her, Marshal. The dramatic effect of her short response has a significant impact on the audience as we realise that she has unintentionally sealed her husband’s fate. It is perhaps symbolic that when Miller closes the door on Elizabeth’s exit the audience realise that with regret realise that the door has been closed on any hope of an appeal from John.
Through his clever use of stage directions Miller has successfully shown tension and friction between characters. The Proctors’ broken marriage is communicated using stilted dialogue and anxious body language. Miller uses the physical proximity of characters to indicate the difficulties within their relationships and heighten the vulnerability of individuals during Danforth’s rigorous interrogations. The society of Salem that Miller portrays is one which relied on the church’s teachings. Ultimately, it is the misinterpretation of characters’ desires for personal gain and power that lead to nobody being safe from the witch trials.