Miller delivers tension Essay
Miller delivers tension
Act two opens with a scene of great contrast to the climax at the end of Act one where the curtain falls on “their ecstatic cries”. In Act two, we begin to learn the relationship between John and Elizabeth in more detail. Miller creates a sense of tension and conflict between John and Elizabeth by using detailed stage directions to communicate to the audience how the actors are feeling and their thought tracks through their movement on stage and their facial expressions.
The tension during Act two is made even more dramatic by contrasting with the coldness and quietness at the start of Act two. At the beginning of Act two, Miller has purposely included very detailed stage directions about how Proctor’s house should appear on stage. Firstly, Proctor’s common room is “low, dark and rather long” which although is common for a Puritan living room, it suggest an unpleasant atmosphere within the household. “As the curtain rises, the room is empty” is also included within the opening set of stage directions.
The room is empty and still which again creates a contrast to the hysteria of Betty and Abigail’s accusations of witchcraft and the heated argument between John and Elizabeth. One reason for Miller to create this contrast could be that he wanted to make the peaceful start to Act two make the ending of Act one and the argument between John and Elizabeth seem more dramatic and to make parts of Act two with John and Elizabeth seem more controversial. As John enters the living room, he “halts” as he hears Elizabeth singing.
Miller may have added this “halts” because John is not knowing what to expect Elizabeth to be like with him because of the unsaid words that still lie between them about John’s affair with Abigail, or because he is enjoying listening to Elizabeth’s singing. John could also be worried that Elizabeth may question his whereabouts of that afternoon because he is late returning home. Elizabeth’s first words are, “What keeps you so late? ” which suggests to the audience that Elizabeth has a lack of trust in John because of John’s affair.
John gives a credible explanation, “I were planting far out to the forest edge. ” and then tries to start a conversation. However, Elizabeth’s responses are laconic, “Aye. “, “That’s well. ” and “Aye, it would. ” which suggests that Elizabeth does not want to talk to John. This could be because Elizabeth is still hurt because of the relations between John and Abigail or because Elizabeth’s mind is elsewhere because of all the accusations of witchcraft circulating through out Salem at this time.
Subject: Arthur Miller,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 October 2017
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