How Does Millar Create a Sense of Tension and Conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor at the Beginning of Act 2?
Arthur Miller was borne on the 17th of October 1915 in New York City. Miller believed that tragedy was not confined to the rich and important but that the ordinary man’s failure was just as moving and terrible. The play ‘The Crucible’ was first produced in 1953 in the middle of the McCarthy political witch hunt in America. Millar decided to write the play as an allegorical text and a parallel between the two events.
The activities of the committee began to be linked in Miller’s mind with witchcraft trials which had taken place in the town of Salem 2 centuries before, for ...view middle of the document...
Miller using stage directions and has John on his return from the field taste the meal the Elizabeth has been preparing, he is displeased with it so seasons it. This appears at first perfectly normal and harmless to the audience, however when John hears Elizabeth coming downstairs he jumps away from the stove and proceeds to wash his hands. It becomes obvious to the audience at this point that their relationship is so strained that John racked with guilt about his affair with Abigail avoids doing anything at all which might aggravate or offend Elizabeth.
This huge effort on John’s behalf to not offend Elizabeth is blatant when he tells her that the rabbit is “_well seasoned_” Elizabeth gratefully accepts this praise replying that she “_took great care_”, this is an awkward scene because both are trying to be friendly to one another but it is easy to see they are uncomfortable in each others presence. It is ironic that John complimented her on the seasoning on the rabbit, since he seasoned it himself; this in particular highlights the conflict between them.
After complimenting Elizabeth on the meal John, talks about the farm and says with a grin “_I mean to please you Elizabeth_.” And she answers, “_I know it John_.” However, before she answers, she pauses, and “_finds it hard to say_.” This means that she might not think he honestly wants to please her, or make their marriage work. Since this is quite a dramatic moment, I think that on stage at this moment the lighting should focus on Elizabeth, and if present the orchestra should be silent to emphasize her hesitation.
It becomes very clear in this scene that John is desperately trying to regain Elizabeth’s trust. The fact that she is cold and distant towards him creates a great sense of strain and the conflict is plain to see. Miller is able to illustrate this conflict between them by using stage directions, he has John walk over to Elizabeth and kiss her, Elizabeth receives his affection with disappointment, she is still cold and unforgiving. Miller shows us that words are not necessary to convey feelings, the expressions of the actors and their body language is enough and can sometimes be more convincing in a subtle way.
When I watched the film made about the play it struck me that in the scene between John and Elizabeth a table had been positioned between them, this acted as a physical barrier. This is actually of great significance and subtly shows the audience that there are obstacles that stand in the way of the proctors, keeping them apart, namely Abigail. Watching the film helped me to see that stage props can be used to great effect, and can often play a significant part in the enhancement of dramatic scenes such as this one.
Gradually the tension between the Proctors escalates and soon they are arguing, this is bought about when...