'Tis Sorcery!

Hello everyone,

My IB english Lit. class sought from me, an analysis of the dramatic elements from Act-1 of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" - a haunting tale based off of the Salem Witch Trials that happened in Massachusetts in 1692-93.
I was late going about it, but an analysis they shall receive!

Surprising as it may be, I wasn't completely enamored by the prospect of delving into witchcraft and sorcery in the late 17th century (I fear I am an ignorant old soul and the devil does me no good)
Oddly enough though after reading through Act-1 of the play and watching a live theater performance  of the same at the Old Vic in London online (directed by Yaël Farber, 2014) I am totally and utterly bewitched *puns always painstakingly intended*

All in all, this first half proved to have a very "Exorcist" vibe. waaaay creepy. waaay spooky. very in season with Halloween. Give it a read/watch if your sick of age-old horror films and have a thing for possessed British settlers in the new world, yapping away in a style of language that I personally love trying to enunciate.

Act-1 begins in true 17th century fashion- unfathomable hysteria.

Well more subdued than others. A reverend- Mr. Parris as we come to learn, is kneeling at his daughter Betty's bedside cursing his luck for having a daughter possessed by evil spirits under his saintly Parish roof. From what I could tell, he is clearly distraught, torn between his inability to cope with the unresponsiveness of his daughter and wishing he's never stumbled upon the girl and his nieces dancing in the woods with Tituba- the Barbadian woman who supposedly deals with the devil himself.

There are multiple themes surrounding plots and story lines running throughout all of Act-1:

#1 A parishioners daughter being supposedly "possessed".
#2 A love interest gone wrong.
#3 Distrust, jealousy and malice towards other women based on half-truths and whole-lies.
#4 Purposeful disregard towards the occult
#5 Fear (and maybe even blind faith?) towards the great unknown.
#6 Naivety

All of these, I found decidedly appealing mostly owing to the spooky atmosphere and mysterious back-stories to each individual character within the story.

- Betty with her naive, almost free spirited, being.
- Abigail with her double-sided facade of "good christian girl" Vs. sour, vengeful lover and liar. The girl confuses me. Is she playing dumb to escape her responsibilities or she genuinely as innocent as she makes it seem?
- Mr. Parris with his seemingly decided nature to run away from things that may make him the public enemy.
- John Proctor and all of his handsomeness and charisma that surely got Abigail's knickers in a twist ( I imagined him about 6"2 with a well kept beard. very British for someone in america but then again that's the kind of man who would turn anyone to sorcery); haunting and indifferent to the occult world. Very sure of himself.... so far.
- Mr. and Mrs. Putnam- two of the most enigmatic people, I'd imagine, on set; their actions and principles fiercely governed by a fear of the unknown and the christian church. All their insecurities laid out before them; doting parents of an innocent child Ruth.
- Tituba and hr knack for quickly becoming public enemy no. #1

In terms of use of language, it was clear that these were new English settlers in the new world (America) I have to admit the hard-to-follow, archaic text within the book i read made it more appealing to me. Tituba clearly cannot speak the language well as she is from Barbados (made abundantly clear by the poorly structured sentences) The tone throughout the play was frantic and seemed as if everyone was constantly on their toes at all times.
Timing and tension were everything to me! the sudden outbursts, the possessed girl flailing around, the hysteria and screaming - all essential to keeping the story alive and interesting and keep the audience awake.

I also took notice of the rather distasteful Misogyny and Patriarchy in Act-1. The stereotypes present were that the women were weak, selfish, and subservient. They did whatever then men asked them to do. An example would be how the author displayed Elizabeth Proctor in a
cold subservient way throughout the rest of the story (yes I did read/watch the rest of it as well). The only time she was mentioned was when something bad had happened that either involved or was caused by her, or when she was serving her husband


The climactic moment of Act-1 had to be the scene at the very end when both Abigail and Betty climb on the bed and begin shouting out the names of very many (possibly innocent) girls whom they claimed to have seen with the devil, proving to be the final nail to the coffin- possibly in an attempt to incite mass hysteria and take the focus away from themselves. Bravo girls, Bravo.

To conclude, I as an audience member as thoroughly enraptured. I would definitely watch/read Act-2 now. and so should you!
I dare say I've said anything with quite as much conviction :p

Until next time,
Liza

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