The first scene that I have studied is an orthodox complication as it truly takes the play onto the next stage of development: it is in this scene that we are introduced to the weaknesses and hidden strengths of the primary characters. The play moves forwards from what is learnt about Abigail and Proctor in these four pages. It is also the point where we learn this is not essentially a play about what happens to people through political reasoning, but the journeys of all the characters through themselves; the political element and Miller’s use of an allegorical device to give the American audience an alternative and relative view of current issues is but an allegory in itself as the play is really an account of his trials and tribulations.Miller’s account, Miller’s representation of the characters, the very root and ethos of the entire play is what Miller learned about himself! I believe Miller unintentionally let his experience rule the play, but this is what touches so many audiences: death is not it, the message is not ‘we cannot allow history to repeat itself because we might all die,’ but ‘this is when you find out who you are, when you are forced to find your limits, when you alone must make the choice.’It is therefore symbolic that this becomes apparent as the hustle and bustle of the first few scenes subside.
The play is structured to illustrate the fact that The Crucible is a journey with the variety of characters, not to show the variation of conflicts and individual resolutions but to show how each different character develops as a person through their ordeals; My analysis takes the view that this is why there is such a vast range of characters and personalities; the structure introduces characters and their role they are to play through stage directions and forewords- for example, it is said of Mrs Putnam ‘She is a twisted soul of forty-five, a death-ridden woman, haunted by dreams.’ It then proceeds to revealing their true inner selves to the audience, the social excepted front is dropped and their character is tested literally under trial or in other ways within the village.This formulaic structure is present when each new complication arises, for any character that is present: This is true to Abigail. I intentionally chose this scene to explore the wide range of emotions that is forced by panic.
The audience is now introduced as the atmosphere is increased to a new level of desperation; the turmoil (or complication) is no longer vague with ‘talk of witchcraft,’ but frightfully apparent. We see the driving force behind all the commotion rear her ugly head.This is used to great dramatic effect, as the suspicions we had about the ‘seeming beautiful’ Abigail are confirmed. The audience feels fear for the villagers of Salem as we become aware of Abigail’s obvious and endless manipulation skills, and even more fear as we see the character act on reaction, in a blind attempt to keep order we see the weakness that is her strength- her passion. She uses sarcasm- “Oh we’ll be whipped!” Then reassurance and care- “Now wake up Betty, it’s Abigail!” Followed by immediate anger- ‘[She furiously shakes her] “I’ll beat you Betty!” ‘As the audience becomes witness to all of this, they are left with anticipation of the revelations of the plot as we see such a strong but essentially weak character in relation to managing her emotions, lying at the root of all Salem’s troubles- it must end in calamity. In addition, the scene places its full focus on Abigail and her emotional roller coaster, with all events and entrances delivered at certain times in according to dramatic irony and the increase of dramatic tension.
For example, I recall the girls become transfixed in discussion, anger and fight until the deepest talk of death, threats and damnation arises when ‘[Enter John Proctor]’, who’s entrance lies on the climax of the scene. The very person who is involved either intimately or responsibly for the two characters that take opposing roles in the conflict enters at that pivotal and climatic point of the scene. This again has a strikingly dramatic effect. The characters are divided into three groups that form a triangle of dramatic irony; (at this point it is oblivious to the audience the fact that Proctor may lay at the root of Abigail’s ambition and will for mayhem.)Proctor, who is involved with Mary as a guardian, is shocked to find his servant whom to his knowledge is at home with wife and children in dangerous discussion with the young girl he is intimately allied with. Abigail, ex-lover and the man she has since developed an obsession with standing and observing these dark subjects discussed with which innocent village children, who lie under the control of Abigail. Lastly, Mary Warren and village friends who fear Abigail and her readiness to betray and manipulate, as a product of that -who has power amongst the other villagers- standing in the doorway.This tangled web is viewed from the audience, such commotion and complexity in the first few scenes! Such tension and trouble; the audience already is aware of the sense of involvement of people and their lives, the feeling of suffocation in a village that survives by living in each others business.
At the time of this pivotal entrance, the moods and feelings change dramatically in relation to Abigail, who despite the recent events leaps again to focus all energies on Proctor, with an array of attempts to impress, flatter, dominate and flirt with him, “Gah, I’d almost forgotten how strong you were John Proctor!”Panic emits in waves from the screaming girls, and Proctor, the unknown is regarded with ‘fear and respect’ (as it states in the following character analysis,) in relation to his effect on the other characters. Tension rises and when reading the script, is pro-longed by a substantial paragraph of writing explaining the basics and a little history of Proctor’s character: everything we need to know to understand the development of the scene into the next section. Also, I could imagine such dramatic devices as a ‘freeze frame’ or pause to illustrate the climax and sudden alteration in emotions, as a new character is introduced. It becomes apparent of Proctor’s character here- even before he has uttered a word- that he is a man that deserves an important entrance; a man of much significance to the extent that a paragraph of writing is needed to explain him fully.