This particular relationship portrayed by Miller to his audience through the accusations of witchery that Abigail shares with her peers is the reasoning why she has so much power and status within the court, and consequently everyone’s faith and belief. If Miller didn’t present this relationship so that the girls hang on to every word Abigail says and follows then they wouldn’t have joined in with the accusations and Abigail would not be the monster Miller presents her to be. At the beginning of Act One, Abigail and Proctor accidentally meet when he enters Parris’s home.
When they are alone, the words they exchange with each other illustrate clearly the structure of their relationship. Miller makes it evident to his audience from the start of this scene that Abigail’s feelings for Proctor are much stronger than his feelings for her. Miller presents Abigail as feeling that Proctor is only denying his love for her because he is married and that he is trying hard to control the situation between them by preventing it from never happening again. This could be true, yet Miller does not show this.
He represents a life of stability and pride that Proctor shares with his wife-one that Abigail can never have, and in this way, Abigail, too, is a victim of Salem’s harsh system. Miller shows to his audience Abigail’s sheer desperation and longing for pity from Proctor through the stage directions (He takes a step to go and she springs into his path) as well as Proctor’s desperation to escape from Abigail’s wanting which is shown through Proctor’s harsh words: ‘I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of my mind.
‘ Miller’s portrayal of the complete opposite approaches to their relationship from both characters influences and shapes his audience’s response to Abigail by highlighting, once again, her child-like craving for power she wants over her ex-lover. Miller has therefore presented again to his audience, through Abigail’s relationships with a judge, her ex lover and her peers that Abigail’s ruthless power and utter control within Salem affects everyone, and for this reason, the audience has no other response to her but hatred and annoyance in that she could be so selfish and yet get away with it.
Due to her previous affair with Proctor, and his betrayal to her when remained to be with his wife when it ended, it is clear to the audience that Miller has presented Abigail’s and Elizabeth’s relationship with each other to be one of hatred and jealousy over the fact that both women are in love with the same man and that only one woman has his love and is with him, Elizabeth. Although Miller never makes the two women directly come together in the play he still succeeds in showing his audience just how much hatred there is between Abigail and Elizabeth by what he presents them to say about each other.
In Act One when Abigail and John meet, Abigail is harsh and bitter towards his wife when she comes into the topic of conversation: ‘She is a cold, snivelling woman’. Abigail then proceeds to describe her as ‘A sickly wife’. Yet, Miller presents Elizabeth to be aware of the revulsion Abigail, understandably, holds towards her. In Act two, when Elizabeth learns of the accusations Abigail has told that day in court, Elizabeth does not hesitate in realising what Abigail is trying to do: ‘She wants me dead…
she will cry me out until they take me’. Miller has presented Elizabeth throughout the play to be a gentle and rational Puritan, and for this reason he has not presented Elizabeth’s dislike of Abigail to be as obvious as Abigail’s’ hate for Elizabeth. However, the detestation present within their relationship is obvious to he audience In Act One, when Abigail is bad-mouthing Elizabeth to Proctor, John defends his wife instantly: ‘You’ll speak nothing of Elizabeth’.
But when the audience witness the couple’s relationship at the beginning of Act Two, Miller portrays that the relationship still is fragile and tense. At this point in the play, Elizabeth is still very hurt after her discovery of her husband’s lechery with Abigail. Their sentences are very short which builds up the tension and causes an awkward atmosphere. John mentions the coldness between them when he says: “It is winter in here yet”. The stage directions imply that Elizabeth is watching him frequently to see his reactions: (She sits and watches him taste it), ( He eats, she watches him).
Elizabeth is short and cold with Proctor at the beginning of the scene, however, the relationship between them has changed considerably by the end of it when Elizabeth arrested for being accused of witchery by Abigail. The tension between them has been forgotten as John fears for Elizabeth’s life. His speech and stage directions show his anger and distress at the treatment of his wife. ( He cannot bear to look at her) ‘I will bring you home. I will bring you soon’, ‘Fear nothing, Elizabeth. ‘ This is Miller’s way of showing the audience that even though John has been unfaithful to Elizabeth; he still loves and cares for her.
Elizabeth and John’s last scene together is at the end of the play when John has been told by the court that if he confesses to being with the Devil his life will be saved. The two characters have both been in prison for a while and have therefore not seen each other through the traumatic experience. Miller’s stage directions portray their eternal love, (He halts inside the doorway, his eye caught by the sight of Elizabeth. The emotion flowing between them prevents anyone from speaking for an instant) This last scene between them is deeply moving and the audience is definitely moved by it.
The last line of the play is spoken by Elizabeth after John’s death, ‘He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him! ‘ This distressing line from a heartbroken Elizabeth makes Miller show his audience juts how strong both Elizabeth’s love for John and Elizabeth is at the hardest part of the play for Elizabeth. Even though Miller presented Elizabeth to be the victim of betrayal at he beginning of the play, he has portrayed to the audience how loving, kind and respective Elizabeth can be by showing the many different aspects of her and her husband’s relationship.
Miller presents throughout ‘The Crucible’ the impact of Abigail’s language and how one lie she tells has a domino effect on the status and livelihood of other characters within the play and how just one lie can grasp the belief and faith, as well as fear, of the judges of the court. It is obvious to the audience that Miller presents Abigail as a liar and an untruthful Puritan purely to make her appear more desperate and childlike in the play. Her desperation presented to Proctor in her language impacts dramatically on his feelings towards her.
In Act One this desperate language that she uses is portrayed strongly by Miller to his audience: ‘John-I am waitin’ for you every night. ‘ However, this impulsive tone does not have the impact on Proctor that Abigail intended it would. Abigail wants Proctor to see her as an adult, an ideal lover to have again, yet, at the end of this scene Proctor refers to her as a child when retaliating to her cries. The dramatic impact of Abigail’s desperation in her language towards Proctor is one that she has lost control over, as no matter what she pleas or says, Miller presents Proctor to despise her more and more throughout his play.
Miller uses this dramatic effect to shape his audience’s response to Abigail, as it is shown to them that Abigail is actually a seventeen year old girl, even though her power makes her appear like she is an adult in the play. As well as using a desperate tone in Abigail’s language as a device for Miller to portray Abigail’s hunger for power along with love, he also uses the extremes such as violence and aggression in her language to show this to the audience. Abigail is presented by Miller to be especially violent and abusive when communicating and interacting with her peers.
The stage direction for Betty in Act One shows this as Betty is (frightened of Abigail) which then was followed by Abigail who (smashes her across the face) and says ‘Shut it! Now shut it! ‘. The words ‘smashes’ and ‘shut it’ that Miller chooses to use to display Abigail’s terrifying violent side are appropriate as these words are much more aggressive than ‘hit’ or ‘silence’. By using more aggressive diction in Abigail’s language, Miller shows to his audience just how extreme her violence can be.
She lies with confidence to the court and isn’t afraid to be looked down upon. She approaches most questions with a sharp response ‘If I must answer that, I will leave and I will not come back’. By using these techniques in presenting her different communication skills Miller allows a dramatic impact of fear to sweep over the stage as most characters are too afraid to argue or question Abigail’s accusations, the accusations of an inferior child who would once have been looked down upon by Salem.
This fact frustrates the audience even more as certain characters have been absorbed into the way in which she speaks to them and confronts them and therefore, fall into the dramatic impact of fear. However, the language Miller presents Elizabeth to use in the play frustrates the audience more than Abigail’s language and Elizabeth’s honesty is less powerful than the lies Abigail declares, even though Elizabeth is of a higher respected position and status within the community.
Miller has presented Elizabeth to be a quiet and selfless woman by nature and this is reflected in the language he chooses her to use. For example, in Act Three she is apprehensive when she feels she has to lie to save her husband’s name of lechery, but due to her language skills she did lie and didn’t save her husband. She attempted on many chances to steal a glance at him for support of the decision she was faced with, whether to speak the truth or not. This is a sign of her love for John and is a key moment in their relationship as they are anticipating their reconciliation at the end of the trials.
‘She glances at Proctor for a cue’ and the impact of the instability of this significant lie determines the response of the audience to her massively. The response is of pity and some strands of anger towards the Puritan woman as she was unaware of her Husband’s confession, something that if she knew, would have affected the impact of her language in the Court Room. The gentle tone that Miller presents Elizabeth to use in the play shapes the audience’s response to her as perfectly as Miller intended it to.
Elizabeth is brave to be supportive towards her Husband after his betrayal of lechery and this is shown in her tone of language Miller chooses her to have towards him. In Act Two, Hale requests for Proctor to recite the Ten Commandments, like every true Christian should be able to, yet the dramatic irony that the one commandment Proctor forgot was the one on adultery did not panic Elizabeth, instead she spoke (delicately)’Adultery John’. Later on in the play, Miller uses Elizabeth’s language to help her open up o the audience as well as to other characters.
‘It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery’ she tells her Husband to which he reacts (in great pain);’Enough, enough. ‘ As if he was trying to erase such a depressing thought from his wife’s mind. Yet, she continues ‘John, I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come home! Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should say my love. It were a cold house I kept! ‘. Even though Miller presents clearly to his audience that their partnership was genuine from the language Elizabeth uses to communicate with and show her love to Proctor. She never rushes him or orders him what to do.
Even at times when Proctor’s life is on the line or through frustration she talks softly to him (her voice quaking). Miller shapes the audience’s response to Elizabeth through her language and the dramatic effect of it, his death to be of admiration and pride for her controlling approach to the most difficult situations. Miller has created such a piece of compelling drama in his play ‘The Cruciblei?? due to the range of moods and emotions such as love, anger, hatred, passion, denial, confessions, jealousy and betrayal that he presents to his audience through his characters.
He has also illustrated the distribution of power throughout a small community. ‘The Cruciblei?? displays the powers of human natures and how they reflect on certain character traits. However, what makes ‘The Crucible’ more dramatic is the fact that The Salem Witch trials did actually happen in 1962. And even though the Witch Trials as well as the fears of communism have passed throughout history, the events that happened in Miller’s play could happen again not just with witchcraft but with any issue where suspicion is at the centre of a community.
If you look back in history you would possibly come across thousands of innocent people who have been swept up by hysterical suspicion due to vulnerability of people. The play illustrates many stories within one community but all characters in the play are ordinary people who have the opportunity to achieve greatness in the face of adversity and Miller has shown how human condition can affect the way in which people deal with the adversity. A piece of drama can either be categorised as a comedy or a tragedy and a tragedy requires a hero, who in this, Miller has presented to be Proctor.
This hero must have faults which would be Proctor’s previous affair with Abigail. However, the hero is always redeemed and Proctor was redeemed through death. ‘The Crucible’ has not only been written to shape the audiences responses to different characters but also to raise awareness to the audience that extremism, hysteria and suspicion can all end in a tragedy, even in real life. Miller has for this reason presented the characters of two Puritan women, Abigail and Elizabeth differently to shape our responses accordingly to the tragedy genre of plays.