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Language for The Crucible

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Arthur Miller use of language explored numerous ways of explaining things that were considered to be necessary. One thing that I noticed Arthur miller did with his language was to set the place and time that they were in meaning the period the story was set in which was in the spring of the year 1692 in Salem.

One of the most effective uses of language in the play is Miller’s use of old fashioned, outdated words such as ‘harlot’. By doing this he ensures that the language maintains its time period but he still keeps it simple so it’s understandable. For example the way he uses words such as ‘Aye’ and ‘Nay’ which stand for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. This tells the audience that the period that this story

is set is in olden times as at the present time we no longer talk in that type of language that they did so this makes it understandable to us that it’s in a different century.

The order of words also gives us a feeling of time and place. For example in act two, page 69 Cheever says and I quote:

“The court bid me search your house, but I like not to search a house”.

By changing the order of the words, it makes it sound much more noble and sophisticated to what we communicate like currently and so this enhances the idea of being in a different time period.

Another thing is the way the characters address each other in the play, it reflects a very formal society. Elizabeth Proctor is referred to as Goody Proctor; this is normally used to refer to a person within a good relationship and refers to them being a good wife. This helps enhance the understanding of the period that they were in as in our time we refer to people as Mr. or Mrs. or even Miss if they are not married. Another example of this is how other address John Proctor only by his surname for example in Act Two page 68 Cheever says:

“Good evening to you, Proctor”

This shows the respect that they have by addressing them by their second name as for Danforth they address him by his second name as well and so because he has a higher status then the rest they refer to him by only his second name as it shows they respect him and it also shows the fear that they might feel towards them as they don’t refer to him by his first name as they don’t class themselves as close as they would a friend. However this can be compared to the way that Abigail and Elizabeth addressed him, who instead of refer to John Proctor by his surname; they addressed him as ‘John’. This showed that by calling him by his first name it shows that they are communicating their intimacy towards him.

The audience is also made aware of the importance of religion in Salem by Arthur Miller’s use of biblical references. The persistent use of ‘Lord, Sod, Satan and Lucifer’ implies the religious beliefs of the community and this is further supported by characters who in conversation quote and refer to the bible. An example of this is when Elizabeth Proctor Pg 53 quotes:

“Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel.” Here Elizabeth is referring to the parting of the Red Sea by Moses where he stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. This gives the statement a feeling of importance of biblical proportions.

Another example where a character uses a biblical reference is when Hales and Proctor are having a discussion and Proctor says and I quote:

“Pontius Pilate! Sod will not let you wash your hands of this!”

This shows the comparison between Hale who is a Reverend of Sod and a strong believer, to Pontius Pilate who was the man responsible for the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. His name has been used as an insult by Proctor as by comparing him to someone that has betrayed his city and done a bad thing refers to him as doing something that is not right as well and So this refers back to a biblical reference and shows the importance of religion within the play.

Another example of the importance of religion in Salem is when the psalm is sung in the background whilst Abigail and Proctor are having a conversation about their hidden relationship in act one page 28 to 30. There are singing a pray to the lord for Betty in whom they believe has been bewitched to get better and Betty whilst waking starts to scream and covers her ears.

“The psalm! The psalm) she cannot bear to hear the Lord’s name!” Act one Page 30

This shows how everything is revolving around religion and how they are strong believe of Sod and that without Sod they would be doomed as they believe they must do everything that’s in the bible otherwise Sod will punish them for their sins. Because of this they believe that when Betty can not bear to hear Sods name is because she has been bewitched as everyone in the good side believes in god and worships him and anyone to do otherwise have to be in the devils side to hate Sod.

Arthur Miller also uses language to 8M^t&differentiate between characters:

Examples could be such as the differences between Danforth and Hales.

Danforth – he is the Deputy Governor, head of the court case dealing with the witch-hunt. He has a strong voice of authority in the court and will not be undermined. He questions anything anyone says to him as if it is a potential threat to both the power of the court and the integrity of the law. An example of this is:

‘[to GILES]: Old man. If your informant tells the truth let him come here openly like a decent man. But if he hides in anonymity I must know why. Now sir, the government and central church demand of you the name of him who reported Mr. Thomas Putman a common murderer.” Act Three page 88

This shows the power that Danforth has over the others as he is the deputy Governor and by the way that he speaks makes him sound much wiser then the rest. By using the government and the church as a reason to confess shows that he has this power over them as the Church is seen as a symbol of god in which they must not lie as it will be seen as a sin and the law of the government and the church’s rules are gods rules and no one must disobey them. This also reminds the audience that in this community Danforth speaks on behalf of the church and the government. His words are the law.

Whilst Hales, who is a minister from Beverly, is very different to Danforth. He is about forty years old, and has a strong belief in the authority of the church. In fact, he considers himself the authority on such matters as witchcraft. His view on the authority of the court changes as he later learns that the law is not always right, just because it is the law. In fact, he ends up siding with John Proctor.

“Excellency, it is a natural lie to tell; I beg you, stop now before another is condemned! I may shut my conscience to it no more – private vengeance is working through this testimony! From the beginning this man has struck me true. By my oath to heaven, I believe him now, and I pray you call back his wife before we-“

This shows how Hale is a man of good doing and only goes by what is right and not by what the law says as he believes that the bible is right but the law might not be right all the time and so he sides on what he believe is right and not on what the law just says. This makes the audience want to empathies with him as they can see what is happening dearer then the actors and so they know what is right and what is wrong and so they would side with him for this.

Proctor is put out to be a very passionate and poetic character. He is the only character who does not care for the voice of authority but cares a lot about his dignity. An example of Proctors romantic side is when he says:

“It’s winter in here yet. On Sunday let you come with me, and we’ll walk the farm together; I never see such a load of flowers on the earth. {With good feeling he goes and looks up at the sky through the open doorway.] ‘Lilacs have a purple smell. Lilac is the smell of nightfall, I think. Massachusetts is a beauty in the spring!”

This shows that even though Proctor makes him self seem like this strong man with no care for no one apart from himself and his dignity deep down he is a loving and romantic person who cares for the romantic side of love and wants to make an effort at the relationship with Elizabeth.

Tituba is Reverend Parris’ slave from Barbados. She has a Barbados accent which is different from the rest. She always refers to herself in the third person. And example of this is:

“‘[terrified, falls to her knees}’. No, no, don’t hang Tituba! I tell him I don’t desire to work for him, sir.”

By referring to herself by her name shows that she is less important then the rest and as she is a slave she puts her self at a lower level to those who speak to her to show her weakness in the situation and how she has no power over anyone.

Another thing that Arthur Miller does with his language is to shape the actors building tension and creating a climax at the end of the first three acts.

In Act One the way that he used language to create tension and build a climax was by the repetition of the names of the girls that Abigail and Betty claimed they saw. An example of this is when Abigail says:

“… I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!”

By repeating the names of these girls apparently seen by Betty and Abigail creates a pace as it’s a build up of hysteria and so it creates tension as we start to think who they are going to mention and what is going to happen know their names are out and who is going to suffer because of this.

In Act Two the part where the most tension is created is the feud between Mary Warren and Proctor.

“[terrified, but coming erect, striving for her authority}. I’ll not stand whipping anymore!”

This creates tension as we are not use to seeing Mary Warren answer back to Proctor or even stand up to him and so this makes us think what’s going to happen now she has gained the power to stand up to him. It makes us think if Proctor has lost his power and control of the situation or not. This creates confusion for the audience as they start to question if the children are going to much power and if they do if it all goes out of hand.

In Act Three the most tension built up is the scene where Abigail is denying to having lied and then blaming it on Marry Warren making it look like she is sending her spirits out on her and then starts to repeat everything Mary is saying.

” [now staring full front as though hypnotized, and mimicking the exact tone of MARY WARREN’S cry]: she sees nothing’!. “

This creates tension as Abigail has this power over the court scene and this makes the audience think what is going to happen next, is proctor going to do something about this or not. It also makes us wonder why can they only repeat Mary and does she really have this power over the girls.

I think that overall Arthur Miller has used his language extremely well to set the place and time and the way that he has used short lines ,made it better to build up a climax as it was much more faster paced and snappy. Also his use of language to differentiate between characters was very effective as everyone’s personality is clearly depicted and no one was similar to another character.

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