How does Arthur Miller prepare his audience for the conflict within the Salem community and the way they will come out
A kettle with a broken pressure valve is the best metaphor to describe Salem's striving community. Arthur Miller effectively represents through act one all the characters of his play as a whole body moving towards a point of explosion, where " [...] suspicions and the envy of the miserable toward the happy could and did burst out in the general revenge."
The first important thing we notice about Salem's society is their deep conviction in a strict theocracy, which has or wants control of the destiny of all citizens to maintain the community together : " [...] whose function was to keep the community together, and prevent any kind of disunity [...] " . The information Miller gives at the beginning of the play in his essays sets the correct situation, and describes the historical and cultural background of Salem's past.
We understand from these essays there are many hidden subtle "Long-held hatreds [...]" between neighbours and disputes for land "[...] which had been expressed before by constant bickering over boundaries and deeds[...] now could be openly resolved. The citizens saw the possibility of a witch-hunt as a way " [...] to express publicly his guilt and sins, under the cover of accusations against the victims."
Act one develops from the solitary sorrow of a man in seeing his child mysteriously ill:
Betty. Child. Dear child. Will you wake, will you open your eyes! Betty little one...
To the serious matter of condemning nine human souls to witchcraft:
Abigail: I saw Goody Hawkins with the Devil!
Betty: I saw Goody bibber with the Devil!
Abigail: I saw Goody Booth with the Devil!
All this gets carried while...