How is tension built up in Act 4 of "The Crucible"?

Essay by leviticusA, March 2007

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The Crucible is a play about how people can be reduced to a name this can be compared to what takes place in an evaporating basin. The person or liquid goes into the basin and after heat is applied, there will be nothing left except a name or a simple residue. In the play we are shown in detail just one case, the case of John Proctor. Throughout the play miller uses a variety of techniques to build up suspense such as stage directions, dialogue and actions. This assignment will look at how theses techniques are used to create such an emotionally moving play. It will focus mainly on Act 4.

At the end of the preceding Act the tension has been built up steadily climaxing in John's exclamation of 'God is dead', Hale quits the court and Elizabeth the stronghold of truth lies to save her husbands name.

Each of these events takes away a slither of the audience's hope for Proctors freedom. However, the audience still has some hope for the freedom of John.

After the events in the last act the audiences emotions are running high, they are waiting with baited breath to find the answer to the question that plagues them all, will Proctor hang? However the act will not reveal the answer just yet, a lull in the tension may not be what the audience need but it is however what they get. The curtains open on a seemingly empty stage.

'Presently footsteps are heard' reads the stage direction. And as the door swings open t he audience as one hold there breath waiting to see who will step over the threshold, could it be John? Elizabeth? Hale? Then Herrick enters 'nearly drunk, and heavy footed' he 'nudges a bundle of rags' on a...