The Crucible - Form and Structure

The Crucible - Form and Structure

Arthur Miller uses various different techniques in the form and

structure of ‘The Crucible’ to create suspense and maintain the

audience’s interest. Of course, one of the main factors of the form

and structure of the play is its genre. ‘The Crucible’ can be

described as being a symbolic play, a tragedy, a political play, an

historical play and a narrative play in naturalistic form. It is

symbolic, political and historic as although the story revolves around

the Salem witch trials, the ideas and morals behind the plot can be

viewed as Miller’s criticism of McCarthyism. The play can also be

seen as being narrative in a naturalistic form due to the lengthy set

descriptions and stage directions followed by regular, natural yet

stylised conversational prose. Obviously, the plot of ‘The Crucible’

is tragic as it ends with Miller killing off the main characters.

One method Miller uses to keep the audience excited and interested is

his use of high tension and climaxes. He ends each of the four acts

with a climax, for example, Act Three finishes with Hale exclaiming,

‘I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!’ as ‘he slams the

door’ behind him. Climaxes such as this will always keep an audience

alert and wanting to know more. Scenes like this particular one also

create an engaging atmosphere and help the audience to understand

extreme Puritanism more clearly. The theme of witch hunting in ‘The

Crucible’ is an exciting factor which will also maintain audience

interest. Miller also changes the focus of the play in each act. For

instance, Miller’s main idea in Act One is ‘fear of the unknown’ which

he shows through Parris’ insistence on there being ‘no unnatural cause


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...d his wife creating tension not only by the change of space

on stage, but also by adapting to a much slower dialogue with pauses.

Through acting out various scenes from ‘The Crucible’, I have learnt

that by ending each act with a cliff-hanger it is human nature which

makes one feel like they must know more and what happens next. By

forming each act as a story in itself, Miller heightens the atmosphere

of mass hysteria due to this ongoing use of tension and climaxes.

Miller succeeds in keeping the audience’s interest flowing despite

this way of a different story in each act by using subplots, for

example, the rivalry between Giles Corey and Thomas Putnam.

Altogether, ‘The Crucible’ is written with an easy to follow form and

structure using pace, dialogue and action to aid builds of tension and

climaxes and therefore remain interesting to the audience.
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