How does Arthur Miller create dramatic tension in Act 3, Scene 3 of ‘The Crucible’?


Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’, written 1953, displays paranoia, mass- hysteria, and theocracy in its true colours. Revenge driven accusations sweep the town, causing many unjust deaths. The word crucible provokes an image of a big boiling pot. This is extremely realistic, as in Salem the population are left to boil. The suffering and turmoil divides the good, honest people of the town from the deceitful wrong do-ers. The good eventually rise to the top, purified, be it in their present life or the next.


‘The Crucible’ depicts a powerful presentation of the famous 1692 Salem witch-hunt.


An extremely prominent character in the play is Abigail. She proves herself to be a manipulative, deceitful, slanderous liar throughout, causing absolute mayhem and huge amounts of pain to many people. Abigail is introduced right at the beginning of the script, described as ‘strikingly beautiful’. It is probable that her beauty and charm have a lot to do with her rise, and the amount of power she gains throughout the play. She uses very different techniques with different people. For the majority of their opening conversation, she is polite to Parris and treats him with some respect; she knows where her boundaries lie with him and so pushes only as hard as she knows she can, ‘Do you begrudge my bed, uncle?’ When she is speaking to Mercy, Mary and Betty she speaks with authority and dominance. She scares them into doing what she wants them to, ‘I say shut it, Mary Warren!’ Her attitude changes again when John Procter enters. She is flirtatious as she tries to lure him into admitting he still has loving feelings for her, ‘Give me a word, John. A soft word’. He has no intention what so ever of doing so, ‘Put it out of mind, Abby’. This conversation shows the audience that the two had a passionate affair previously, ‘sweated like stallion whenever I come near!’ Abigail still has intensely powerful feelings for John Proctor, and so is extremely jealous of his wife Elizabeth. She is also very bitter because Elizabeth threw Abby out of her house when she discovered the affair. For this Abigail spreads lies about Elizabeth, ‘It’s a bitter woman, a lying, cold, snivelling woman’. This quote sums up one of the most important themes throughout the play, as Abigail’s main aim is to bring Elizabeth down and show to John that he would be better off with her instead.


John Procter is an extremely important character through the play, although not especially in Act 1. He is an honest man throughout. The audience discovers he has had an affair with Abigail, but he shows immense remorse. ‘I will cut of my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again’. This is also one of the most important themes of the play. While Abigail is trying as hard as she can to split John from Elizabeth, john is doing all he can to drive her away, ‘I’ll not be comin’ for you more’. This links to other acts, such as Act 2, where he tries to confirm to Elizabeth, ‘I have forgot Abigail’.


Parris’ personality is shown in its true colours right at the beginning of the play. While his daughter lies immobile, he worries about his future with the town and the church. He shows little concern for the welfare of his child in comparison to the care that he shows for himself. This is shown in his opening conversation with Abigail where he says, ‘my own household is discovered to be the very centre of some obscene practice.’ and ‘they will ruin me with it’. Another selfish figure is Thomas Putnam, who has a reputation of swindling land from people in the village through his grandfather’s will, ‘Your grandfather had a habit of willing land that never belonged to him’. Putnam also stirs up trouble for people he isn’t fond of, this is shown when he accuses Proctor of treason against Parris, ‘Against him and all authority’ and ‘He confessed it now!’


Hale is a very authoritative figure. He is called from Beverly by Parris as a ‘precaution’ as ‘He has much experience in all demonic arts’. He comes