How Miller Creates Conflict in the Crucible?

Published: 2021-09-02 13:45:12
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Category: Conflict, Witchcraft, Crucible

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English Controlled Assessment Draft: Conflict in the Crucible The play I am studying for this essay is called “The Crucible” and I will be focusing on Act 1 of the book. The question I will be answering is what’s the most powerful type of conflict in the opening act of the crucible? The word conflict means a state of disharmony, opposition and or fighting. The conflict portrayed in the Crucible is often described as tools used to describe events in Millers time period.
For example, witchcraft doesn’t exist in Salem yet that is the basis of the storyline of the play and many people die as a result of accusations over witchcraft. During the time Miller wrote this book, the cold war was happening and many people in America were accused of communism (including Miller himself), when they were accused they were routinely asked to give names of other communists which is the same as the ‘witches’ in Salem were asked, whether the devil “come-with another person” and many of these people turned out to not be communists in the first place same as the accused ‘witches’.
So it seems that Miller uses the fact there were not any witches in Salem as a metaphor suggesting there were not any communists in America. Miller conveys Putman as a source of conflict as a result of his rivalry for power with Parris. This is demonstrated when Mr Putman is seen as attempting to stir drama over Parris’s daughters situation “No witchcraft! Now look you Mr Parris”.



As Parris is so plainly defiant in his denial of “witchcraft” affecting his daughter, this portrays Mr Putman as deliberately trying to annoy Parris to most likely make him look like a loose cannon in the eyes of Salem to steal his job. Which makes sense as Miller tells us that the Putnam’s resent Parris and Mr Putnam wanted his brother in law to have Parris’s position. The directive “Now look you” magnifies this as although Parris has more authority than him, he is already seen as trying to order Parris around.
This is then amplified when Parris replies stating “They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my house” as Mr Putnam is seen as the main rival to Parris, it seems that Parris implies that Mr Putnam is the one who will “howl” him out of Salem. In addition, the word “Howl” at first seems to be a hyperbole as Salem is first thought of as a good religious community, but it then creates contrast towards the end of act one as the town is seen as willing to give the death penalty to children because they think that their witches “This woman must be hanged! . This creates tension throughout the audience as it makes them realize Salem isn’t as united as it first seemed and there is a massive power struggle between the two families as “howl” also portrays Mr Putnam as a monster, more specifically a werewolf which is a mythological predator and predators like to be at the top of the food chain. However, Parris already has a place on top of the metaphorical food chain which places Putnam and Parris as natural rivals.
Also, it creates tension in the audience by showing just how important power is in Salem as Parris and Putman both care more about power and their reputation than their own daughters. Miller’s intentions of this may be to show that people will act in extreme ways to protect themselves including neglecting their daughter, which links back to Millers era as many accused communists were interrogated under torture and many tried to escape leaving behind their families.
In the play “the crucible” Miller portrays a community in conflict when proctor’s commitment to their puritan ideology is doubted. This is demonstrated when Proctor states “No, No, Abby. That’s done with” when Abigail appears to flirt with him. The connotation of “That’s done with” suggests that Proctor once committed the sin of Adultery with her which is a very serious sin to the Puritans. The repetition of “No, No” shows that proctor knows he’s done a bad thing not just in terms of the Puritan Ideology but also in terms with his own morals.
However, the fact Abigail wants to do it again and doesn’t consider it a bad thing shows the conflict and divides between the older and younger generations in Salem as the younger generation’s challenge the Puritans rules without remorse. This creates nervousness within the audience as it demonstrates just how fragile the unity of the community in Salem is. It also links back to Miller’s intentions as he may be trying to suggest that paranoia divided communities as it did in America when many people were being accused of communism over little things.
Miller intensifies a sense of conflict towards the end of act 1 through a fast paced scene when multiple accusation of witchcraft are made. This is started when Abigail exclaims “I want to open myself! ” and from there onwards Betty also takes up the chant and blames people “I saw Martha Bellows with the devil! ” The fact that the curtain descends with “Devil” as the last word spoken reflects the state of fear on stage and the divides caused by this conflict to Salem as normally the people of Salem talk about God but as a result of this conflict they end by talking about he Devil, an abnormal thing for them. The use of Exclamation marks, snappy sentences and the amount of accusations made infers that it is a fast paced, loud scene and reflective of the hysteria on stage. This creates dramatic irony towards the audience as they know the truth which is that witchcraft doesn’t actually exist, the fact witchcraft is punishable by death shows them that the girls are willing to let someone else die to prove themselves innocent thus creating a sense of conflict.
The repetition of the word “Devil” towards the end makes the audience feel sympathy towards the people that are getting blamed as they know that none of it is actually true. This can be linked back to Millers intentions as he may be trying to show that when people fear for their life they are willing to lie and blame others to save themselves which also occurred during the cold war (Millers era) when people lied and blamed other people of being communists to avoid themselves going to prison.
To conclude, there have been many powerful conflicts throughout act 1, my final judgement is the rivalry of power between Parris and Putnam is the most powerful conflict. This is important as it provides the baseline for the story line. Parris states that there are ‘factions’ after his position in Salem, It is likely that he is meaning the Putnam family as they are seen as a main antagonistic rival in ‘The Crucible’ against Parris. He describes calling for Reverend Hale as a “precaution” but denies that “witchcraft” is the reason for his daughter’s problem.
As a result it is likely that he called for Mr Hale just so Mr Putnam doesn’t complain and demand his removal from power, so it is essential that Miller introduced with this conflict as without it the play wouldn’t be as gripping. This conflict effects the audience by making them realize that even before witchcraft entered the picture there was already a fragility in the community relations in Salem and it’s likely that these conflicts would probably at some time be realised and spark irrational action. Witchcraft is seen as just the trigger to this.

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