Examine Miller's "The Crucible" presentation of John and Elizabeth Proctor's relationship in Act Two (to the top of p46 when Mary Warren enters).

Essay by spazzyslut69 November 2006

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A crucible is a container in which metals are heated to extract pure elements from impurities. This reflects the story as it portrays John Proctor and the citizens of Salem, as in the play they are tested in a life-threatening ordeal of being accused of witchcraft and being brought to the courts to 'name names' and charge others of the same crime. The people's moral and pure deaths at the end rather than immoral, impure betrayals of their consciences and fellow villagers, shows us that they - like the metals in a crucible - have become pure. Links from this can be made to McCarthyism in the times of the Cold War. It also relates to the playwright, Arthur Miller, as he himself was summoned to come before Senator Joseph McCarthy's committee - who were searching out communist sympathizers in the late 1940's and early 1950's - and was pressurized to 'name names'.

Miller had always shown an interest in the subject of witch trials since his college years, and after reading the Marion Starkey's book 'The Devil in Massachusetts', Miller had begun writing his new play 'The Crucible'. It describes the perverse manifestation of panic created when a group of girls cause the death of many by accusing them of witchcraft.

Act two is very varied in atmosphere when compared to its predecessor. Act one ends in 'ecstatic cries' whereas act two begins with a peaceful ambience and the stage directions tell us that Elizabeth is 'softly singing to the children'. The opening scene of Act two clearly portrays a typical Puritan farmers home. The props used within the scene all add to this atmosphere, including the stew cooking over the fire and the presence of a gun, which John Proctor brings in from his day at work on...