The "Yellow Bird" Spirit
One of the most vibrant, deep, and sagacious screenplays of the 21st century is Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." Miller brilliantly comments on human morals, authority, and mass hysteria. He parallels the events of Salem in 1600's to the blacklisting and the discrimination against those who were labeled as a "communist" in America during the 1950's. He proficiently shows how mass hysteria could sweep an entire community like a tsunami and erase all logical thought and rationality. Especially in the "yellow bird" scene during Act III, he portrays how mass hysteria is achieved and the effects of such panic. Miller uses the dialogue, the stage directions, and the atmosphere, setting, and time period of the scene to acquire the desired mindless panic. Through his play, he manages to show how jealousy, frustration, and vulgar vengeance can transform a sound and tranquil town into own that is predominated by hysteria.
Miller uses the character's dialogue to help to create the hysterical mood. On page 224, Abigail initially introduced the supposed "yellow bird" spirit of Mary by saying, "Why do you come, yellow bird?" Her ongoing "conversation" with the "yellow bird" quickly escalates out of control with the girls chiming in eagerly. Miller uses both Abigail and the group of girls to mock Mary. In an extended passage on page 224, it is evident the effect of this mimic:
Mary Warren. Abby you mustn't!
Abigail and All the Girls. Abby, you mustn't!
Mary Warren. I'm here, I'm here!
Girls. I'm here! I'm here!
Mary Warren. Mr. Danforth!
Girls. Mr. Danforth!
Mary Warren. They're sporting! They-!
Girls. They're sporting!
Mary Warren. Stop it!!
Girls. Stop it!!