In reading the overture, prior to any discussion occurs, we are given a little glimpse into the world of the Salemites. Miller speaks briefly of the town and the surrounding wilderness. The positioning of Salem, surrounded by the impenetrable forest currently starts building stress. The simple reality that forest exists prevents escape from Salem and therefore the residents of Salem are unable to physically remove themselves from their problems and conflicts within the community.
The forest itself is described as: ‘dark and threatening’, by Miller.
This presents an almost intangible threat and constant danger to the play. This alone will make the Salemites feel trapped; this pressured feeling being shown throughout the play. More substantial is the way in which the forest is said to be: ‘over their shoulders’. This creates a sensation that the residents of Salem are being overshadowed by this excellent threat. As the play is a fight in between light and dark, good and wicked, this is particularly meaningful as it shows Salem being overpowered by the darkness.
It also contributes to the sensations of threat and menace the Salemites feel because it suggests a hidden ‘something’ watching them.
When viewed in a historic context the forest serves another purpose. At the time of writing McCarthyism was sweeping America. Although more obvious parallels are drawn later in the play I think the forest represents the looming threat of being implicated a communist sympathiser. The audience would empathise with the Salemites through this shared threat; this link would have been utilized by Miller to provide the whole play more effect.
Another way in which Miller creates a feeling of tension is through the language used in both stage directions and in the speech of the characters. Miller utilizes ‘power words’ to produce an environment of stress throughout the play. On the first page with speech, page six, words such as: ‘frightened’, ‘trouble’ and ‘fury’. It is evident from the start that Salem is not the ideal pilgrim village it is indicated, and used, to be. The truth that something is incorrect in this town, wrong enough to make a minister weep, and respond with such violence grabs the attention of the audience immediately.
The stage directions are particularly telling of the moods of characters. Page seventeen sees Abigail and Proctor alone for the very first time and the tension in between them is plainly visible. For example ‘Abigail has actually stood as though on tiptoe, absorbing his presence’, when somebody is on tiptoe their entire body goes tense as though preparing for something. This might be a really literal way of showing us tension in between Proctor and Abigail. Later, on the very same page, Abigail ‘springs into his course’. Once again the word spring suggests she has actually been coiled, tense, awaiting his motion and it is this anticipation that Miller utilizes to fantastic result when revealing us chemistry between two characters.
Of all things, maybe the worry of the unidentified is the most powerful. Miller utilizes this from the start and builds tension around the fact that the audience has as little or less details about the preceding events as the characters. As both the audience and characters are obviously in the dark about events surrounding Betty’s condition there is once again a link draw up in between the 2, this is utilized to the very same impact as the McCarthyism link.
Speech patterns likewise reveal the stress of the characters involved. For example, a lot of characters begin to shorten their words and speak in an even more stiff fashion than typical when feeling threatened or angry. These monosyllabic phrases litter the play and reveal the audience the increasing conflicts in the neighborhood. On page twenty-six this is particularly obvious. ‘He had no right to offer it’, says Putnam to Proctor. All the words in this sentence are monosyllabic, sharp and to the point. It is these changes that reveal the audience how the characters are actually feeling. Miller utilizes these expressions to both show stress and to create it in between characters throughout the play.
Repeating plays an enormous part in ‘The Crucible’. Specific words such as ‘evil’, ‘unnatural’ and most undoubtedly ‘Devil’ are repeated to the point where they are appearing nearly every page. Only Proctor and Paris appear set versus the concept of supernatural tampering and even when the town is faced with a mass of evidence which supports more ordinary explanations of occasions the sobs of witchcraft are still as loud. It appears as if the Salemites want to believe Lucifer himself is threatening them. There is probably a lot of reality because statement. The Salemites had actually gotten away England however a couple of generations ago and had actually done so to prevent persecution since of their beliefs.
Now the Salemites are trapped and alone. It is paradoxical perhaps that their flight to liberty has in reality increased their seclusion. Now they have no one to combat either. They were genuinely alone; possibly the manic belief in Lucifer’s conquest of Salem was a release, an enemy versus which they might combat the good fight. Without the unconverted heathens England used it what was left however combating the Devil himself or aiming to your neighbour for anything that could be viewed as an unholy imperfection? The Salemites belief in the Devils power in Salem may have been started by the women but was brought onwards and taken greater by practically all of the occupants of Salem, possibly because they wanted to think in the corruption of their village.
This circumstance, as presented by Miller in Act I of ‘The Crucible’ is at the core of all tension throughout the play. Miller makes us see how exceptionally unsafe society can be when in the grip of hysteria, the audience of then would have understood all too well. Through uses of various devices Miller feeds and enhances the underlying stress at crucial moments till we understand that some dreadful act should take place before the town will understands what it has done. What action could be interpreted as the Devil’s operate in a society freaked? As we see from Goody Nurses and Proctors hanging, anything.