Miller Dramatises Conflicts Between John and Elizabeth Proctor in the Crucible
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Arthur Miller uses a number of devices in order to dramatise the conflict between John and Elizabeth. The device that is most apart to the audience is the staging. Miller very effectively uses this to physically show that there is a deep rift running through their relationship, and home. The large and detailed opening stage direction shows that he has put a lot of thought into how he wanted to portray his feelings. The opening directions describe the house as “low, dark… and empty”. This is symbolic of the state of their relationship, and immediately sets the scene for the “empty” conversation which follows. The Act opens with Elizabeth upstairs, and John entering from outside. This alone shows that there is a feeling of separation between them, as Miller could have easily started the scene with them both in the room. This creates a feeling of tension in the audience from the beginning.
The third use of staging is when Elizabeth turns her back to John, after the already stilted conversation ground to a halt. Miller writes in the stage directions, “a sense of their separation arises”. In a normal setting, this act would otherwise be acceptable, yet in this context it is obvious there is an ulterior motive. For the audience, this would show that she had an opposing idea to John’s yet she doesn’t want to speak out as it’s not her place as a Puritan wife.
Later, in Act Four, Arthur Miller again uses staging to good effect with the entrance of John into the room in which Elizabeth, Hale, Parris and Danforth are situated. This staging is so powerful, that “the emotion flowing between them prevents anyone from speaking”. This is the beginning of the conclusion of the passionless gap that had separated them so far. Miller also uses several well placed pauses. These pauses convey to the audience that they are struggling with what they have to say, and this is because the content is opposing. Elizabeth does not want to tell him to confess, yet he believes he should. Yet again, this shows their opposing ideas, which is the root of their raging conflict. For the most part of that Act, John doesn’t look at her, so when he finally does look straight at her, it is to ask “I would have your forgiveness, Elizabeth”
The second main device Miller uses is the Body Language he instructs the actors to adopt. The first obvious use of this device is when Elizabeth turns her back to John. Another use is when Elizabeth forgets to bring John the cider to drink. At the time, that would have been extremely bad etiquette for the time, and not what a good wife of the time would be expected to do. With this information, the audience will know that this act indicates that she is preoccupied.