The Crucible: the strain in John and Elizabeth’s relationship
Miller shows the strain in John and Elizabeth’s relationship in a number of ways. He does this by giving them each one line; he does this to show that the couple are greatly uncomfortable with talking to each other.
“What keeps you so late? It’s almost dark” “I were planting far out to the forest edge”. this shows that this couple is very scared to talk to each other and say more than one short sentence to each other. The tension builds up when they are having a conversation.
In addition, Miller shows the strain in this relationship through stage directions like: “Elizabeth received the kiss with a certain disappointment” this shows the strain as she does not kiss him back, she only receives it. The fact that she only “received the kiss with a certain disappointment” shows that she does not really want a kiss and is very sad about something about something, most possibly concerning their relationship.
Also Elizabeth has found out about John and Abigail which also has a huge effect on the relationship because Elizabeth thinks that they are having an affair. The dialogue between the two shows the strain on the relationship as it mostly short things said to each other and at the start of the scene the couple don’t greet each other, Elizabeth goes straight into questioning John which shows that she might be somehow suspicious of him.
Miller shows that life in Massachusetts was very hard for women and they had no recognition in the community. The women in Massachusetts lived in fear of the devil possessing them. Men where very powerful over women, they where in charge of everything around their own household and could resort to violence if the women did not do what they requested. People in 1962 has only the bible to read, so they had to followed everything the Bible said. The fear of devil was very common not only to women but also for men too.
Miller shows that John is as well as everyone else; he does not want the devil and wants to drive it away any way he can: “I’ll whip the devil out of you”. This quote shows that John wants to whip Mary Warren in the belief that this will get rid of the devil in her. He has done this before and he says this possibly to scare Mary out of her shoes, by mentioning the devil in his anger-filled statement. This quote might also show the hatred of the devil because he wants to whip the devil out of her this will mean he will use violence against Mary. He also implies that she has the devil in her as she seems to have gotten the courage to answer him back, for the first time. She is usually scared of John as he is not afraid to raise his hand and use violence against women in his household. Read also “Mass hysteria in the crucible”
The stage directions that Miller uses are very important because they give us the impression that this is a normal day in an ordinary family, “He reaches to the cupboard takes a pinch of salt, and drops it into the pot” This quote shows that John is in his own house and Miller shows that he is comfortable to do what he wants in his own house. This makes the audience watching the play feel that John is the head of the family and can do what he wants. This would only take a minute on stage, which would not be exciting to the audience, but Miller is trying to make the drama as realistic as possible.
Further more the stage directions also show John’s anger towards the women in his house. Miller shows that men in Massachusetts where very violent against women and could get aggressive and violent. “With a violent undertone” The quote shows that at this part of the play John was very aggressive and almost showing some violence in some way, even the tone of his voice displays his aggression.
Miller creates the language of the seventeenth-century spoken in Massachusetts carefully that the audience, hearing it instantly know that they are in a different world to their own. It helps to make the action on the stage more real. The language with its references to the Bible, Satan and blood, tells the audience a lot about their society, but it also hints of the horrors to come. “You will not judge me more Elizabeth” Nowadays people wouldn’t talk this way, this shows that the time this play was set was very different. The word “judge” hints at the trials that are going to be happening later on the play.
The scene keeps an audience interested and intrigued during the performance of the play in a number of ways. The tension between John and Elizabeth keeps the audiences concentration up and in suspense. Also the rising of John’s anger keeps the audience thinking and expecting a number things to happen. The audience would anticipate that the rising of John’s anger will resort to violence or will he have to back down?. The fact that the audience would be expecting John to be violent is because in Massachusetts 1962 women could be whipped by men if they disobeyed them or did something wrong.
In addition to this, when Mary warren asserts her power to John the audience are expected to be very surprised at this point because this would be possibly the first time a woman of that time would have power against men. When asserting her power, Mary Warren clearly shows that she does not want any violence to be used against her. She says to John “I’ll not stand whipping anymore!” the exclamation mark in this quote would maybe be the first one put by Miller in a woman’s dialogue towards a man. This clearly shows that Mary has some power given to her and she is willing to take advantage of it.
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