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Arthur Miller The Crucible Essay- How does Miller create the world of The Crucible

Updated on December 1, 2017

Arthur Miller uses various writing strategies to create the world of The Crucible. Discuss.

Miller creates the world of his 17th century play, ‘The Crucible’ through various writing strategies that enable him to create an atmosphere alike to the one in Salem during the witch-trials. Miller uses simplistic and archaic language that can be expected to have been used in Salem long ago. He sets up the perfect environment for an outbreak of hysteria, weaving a socially constricted surrounding, that is narrow-minded and judgemental. He draws out emotions from his characters, and encases the city with a blanket of conflict, mistrust, and resentment.

Arthur miller uses the language of that period of time, weaving colloquial language such as ‘goody’ and ‘goody wife’ into his dialogues to create a sense of originality and sophistication. He uses older speech patterns and grammar of a different period of time to create this world. We see characters using older verb conjugations, such as when proctor is seen exclaiming ‘Be you foolish, Mary Warren!’ or when Elizabeth argues ‘It were a cold house I kept!’. This language derives from 17th century Massachusetts, in which most people had little formal education yet they had an extensive knowledge of the bible, and similarly miller sprinkles their dialogue with biblical references. In court, Procter urges Marry to ‘remember what the angel Raphael said to the boy Tobias’. The people of sale are also seen using alternative names for Lucifer, calling him the ‘Old Boy’ and ‘The Devil’. By using terminology and language, Miller creates dialogue that mirrors the 17th century vocabulary and grammar, which aides him in creating the world of the crucible.

Miller produces a society based on theocracy, that is constricted and narrow minded as a result ; he is able to re-create the social conventions of the 17th century, constructing an atmosphere that is bound to create hysteria. This is shown when at the start of the play, the girls decide to go out into the woods and ‘dance like heathens’, as this is a perhaps an extreme example of their need to be away from the village and experience a bit of freedom. The society’s strict belief in theocracy is evident and the forbidding of coloured clothing, music, dancing, or singing, further highlight the tight constraints put on the young girls. Throughout the novel, Miller uses references to religion; the audience may remember Hale reminding proctor that ‘theocracy is a fortress, no crack in it may be accounted as small’, emphasizing the society’s rigid beliefs. By using theocracy as a central and most important idea, Miller is able to create the world of the crucible.

Miller draws out emotions such as mistrust and hatred from his characters to create conflict and and draw attention to long held grudges, which in turn helps him re-create the Salem society from the 17th century. He draws the readers attention to the ‘wheels within wheels in [the] village, and fires within fires’, emphasizing the intricate nature of the long held grudges between the villagers and those who may want revenge as a result. Miller displays to the the conflict , hatred and resentment in forms of accusations which are based merely on revenge; such as Martha Corey who was accused for witchcraft because she sold a pig to the Wallcot’s and it died within a week, and when requested a refund she refused. These accusations, based on merely grudges emphasise the amount of conflict and the decay of moral values as the play continues. Similarly, Elizabeth Proctor is accused by Abigail who presumably wants ‘to be proctor’s wife’. Miller allows hysteric accusations to take over the city, which helps create an hysteric environment like the one in the 17th century.

Miller creates the world of the crucible through the language he uses which is archaic and mirrors that of the Salem society long ago, with its own grammar and vocabulary. Miller also creates a society that is constrictive and narrow minded, due to the strict theocratic beliefs that the audience can link to the puritans that once lived in Salem. Finally, through the use of emotions such as resentment and hatred, Miller plants the seeds of conflict between each and every villager that makes the hysteria that took over Salem seem inevitable.


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