Saturday, October 22, 2011

Analysis of the crucible

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Analysis of The Crucible

The language used in The Crucible is Arthur Miller’s adapted version of the language spoken at the times found in the actual court records of the trials. The language in general is archaic, giving you the feeling that it is a very different society being portrayed, for example the very first line of the play is “My Betty be hearty soon?’ from Tituba. The language given to the characters is similar to that of the existing bible of the time that the settlers would have brought with them from England, King James (‘Authorised’) version. Many of the phrases used are also exaggerated, made more visual so they will better suit the play, for example when John Proctor describes his wife’s behaviour as ‘an everlasting funeral’.

We were set the task of acting out part of a scene from the Crucible. This was to be done using forum theatre, with directors comments or as a rehearsal. This meant that we had to show different ways of acting out the scene, giving reasons for our choices.

When deciding upon a scene to act-out, it was eventually agreed that the final scene would offer plenty of room for adaptation, as well as having enough characters for six people to play when shortened down to fit the time allowance. The scene is cut to start when Elizabeth is talking to Proctor alone, leaving just two arguments each before the other characters enter. It is important that this is included because it shows more of Proctor’s earlier frustration at the start and his decision to begin with, so it still shows contrast with his final decision and shows the path of his emotions and mental state through his final scene. The last scene would be set in the village church as a kind of judging ground, and showing some of the play’s irony that Proctor should have to damn himself in a holy place to prove to other’s that he is faithful. At the beginning, Elizabeth and Proctor would be standing at the front of the church in front of a cross or an alter (if puritan churches have alters) with a window from behind them lighting the otherwise shady scene. Elizabeth would be standing to one side, only partially illuminated as Proctor paced back and forth in front of her, saying his lines. Elizabeth would try to comfort him, putting her hand out towards him as if to rest on his shoulder if he weren’t moving to comfort and calm him down. The other characters would enter through the church doors, striding past the pews where in a play an audience could be seated giving them a dramatic entrance and letting the audience see them closely as they walk past. When Danforth enters, he strides in with Parris rushing to keep up, Hale following to show the relationships between them, Danforth being the leader, Parris following what ever he does and Hale being dragged along as he now doubts the righteousness of their actions.

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We chose to add in directorial comments and show some different ways of acting out certain parts as it was agreed that this would be the best way to show our progression in understanding the play and our different ideas.

The dialogue between Danforth and Proctor is then more focussed on tone of voice and slight expressions than overly dramatic movement. When Parris says ‘Praise god’ for the first time, this is the signal for Rebecca to start walking down the aisle, walking slowly as though with a heavy heart, and with signs of her age. The building of tension is shown by Danforth’s suppressed and building anger at the situation, and the displays of power sometimes shown as Danforth walks forward with a clever line, thinking he will be able to get Proctor to sign by confusing his logic. Proctor’s cry of ‘Because it is my name!’ would be said in a loud voice, as in the play’s directions ‘with a cry of his whole soul’ to show the audience how strongly he feels about this, that it is not just a spur of the minute change, but he does truly feel this. After this first line, Proctors voice would become more subdued as though he has vented his last strength against Danforth and is now just trying to explain it, but with a broken voice as though he is suffering inside. As Danforth says his next line, Proctor should gain more strength disbelieving the stubbornness of Danforth, so have a defiant look in his eye when he tears the paper to shreds. At this, Parris should fall to his knees and try to pick up the peaces, knowing that the town will now blame him and he will lose office if Proctor stands as a martyr.

Proctors crying our is also said in such a forceful way to show how strongly he feels about keeping his name, and the theme of names in the play.

As Proctor gives his last speech he would say his lines a little teary eyed, but gain strength as Elizabeth starts to walk towards him so directing his line ‘white enough to keep it from such dogs’ defiantly at Danforth. Proctor and Elizabeth should meet half way and when he says his final words quietly just to her (and the audience) he should have his hands on her arms, at once trying to comfort her and keep her strong, before hugging her one last time. As they separate and Rebecca says her line, Danforth should start walking towards them, saying his last line as he walks and directing ‘corruption’ towards Proctor as he storms past them and strides down the aisle and off-stage. Proctor and Rebecca are then escorted away, leaving only Parris , Elizabeth and Hale behind. Parris should go to Elizabeth hurriedly here, saying his line, then looking from the doorway to Elizabeth, hurrying one way to call his line to her before running out after Proctor. Hale should do much the same, only look more to Elizabeth than the door as though the last hope remains in her. Hale breaks down on his knees here, shaking his open hands up at her as though in a final plea as Elizabeth walks aside. Then, when delivering her ending line, Elizabeth is standing on her own, facing the aisle so that the sunlight falls on her, looks forlornly after Proctor and says her last line tearfully but with grace before falling to her knees and weeps silently as Hale stands up behind her. This makes for a dramatic ending as well as showing the strengths of the characters.

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