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The Crucible

Essay by   •  December 8, 2010  •  872 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,083 Views

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RHETORIC

Throughout the Crucible, Arthur Miller uses many forms of rhetoric to progress and shape the plot. Miller exercises three significant forms of rhetoric to shape the play; symbolism, irony, and suspense.

Although only a few instances of deep symbolism occur during the story, there are many important symbols. The title itself has two different meanings; a crucible is a melting metal to be forged into something new and different, which parallels the story to how it is a new society of forming upon change, and it is similar to the word crucify which is indisputably done to many people during the play. Rebellion to the Puritan society is one of the key symbolic meanings of the woods. The woods for the rebellious show how numerous people discharge their sexual wanting and also is the place where most of their witchcraft takes place, but for the Puritans woods are viewed as one of Satan's strongholds, as many people of the era believed (as shown in stories like "The Devil and Tom Walker"). In many tales the courthouse is supposed to represent justice and equality, but in The Crucible the courthouse is representative of inequality and injustice by its many crooked verdicts of the supposed witches.

Due to Millers play format, dialogue is one of the most important factors for creating a successful tone and time period. In preserving the 1692 dialect, Miller utilizes

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techniques such as dropping the "g" from the "ing" ending in words such as sleepin' or walkin'. Also, he uses outdated but understandable words such as harlot (meaning prostitute) to illustrate the time period of the characters' talk. Miller's use of biblical words such as gospel and lord help achieve a sense of the community's strict religious fundamentals.

Irony shows up numerous times throughout the play, especially in the character Abigail Williams. Abigail is a very ironic hypocritical woman, she claims herself to be pure yet she has had an affair with the married John Procter and now out of lust plans to murder the his wife Elizabeth. Despite all of Abigail's effort to be with John Procter, he dies to keep his honor. The town was in desperate need of a way to test for witchcraft summons John Hale, however he ends up defending a lot of the supposed witches. Lastly and probably the largest and most ironic item is the town's name, Salem, which is a derived Indian name for peace, and certainly the one thing Salem doesn't have is itself, peace.

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LITERARY CRITICISM #1

In Robert A. Martin's criticism towards The Crucible is very solemn and intellectual approach. He views it more as a "cultural and historical study rather than a political allegory". Martin feels as though the characters in the play symbolize certain things such as "hatred, fear, and hysteria. He explains how the trials went from those being accused being "old eccentric women like Sarah Good" to everyone and anyone giving the slightest hint of having the appearance of a witch. The central issue in the play was "the parallel between the witchcraft trials at Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and the current Congressional

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