The Crucible: Act Notes Act 3

 

Summary:

       The scene is set in court, where Judge Hathorne is asking questions and Martha Corey is answering them.

       Hathorne accuses Martha Corey of being a which, she denies it

       Giles shouts out that he has evidence against the accusation that his wife is a witch, and therefore Hathorne orders that Giles should be arrested

       Hale enters the court room and helps defend Giles, in order to save his wife

       Francis Nurse, who's wife was condemned that morning, states that the girls that are making the accusations are a fraud.

       Mary Warren and Proctor enter the court scene and defend Elizabeth, who has also been accused of witchcraft.

       Therefore, Proctor denies that his wife has anything to do with witchcraft and Mary Warren admits that she had previously lied in court about the presence of the Devil and witches.

       We find out that Elizabeth Proctor is pregnant and therefore is allowed to live another year, until she has the baby.

       Proctor presents a letter which has been signed by 91 people, stating that they have seen so sign of witchcraft in Elizabeth. Parris thinks this is an attack upon the court, and wants all these people to be questioned.

       Proctor and Giles continuously attempt to prove their wives' innocence, yet are accused of being a threat to the court.

       Danforth attempts to show logic in their accusations by calling witchcraft an 'invisible crime.'

       Abigail and the other girls are brought into the court scene.

       Abigail manipulates Danforth and the court, Proctor jumps at her and calls her a whore

       Proctor admits to his affair with Abigail to the court, and so his wife is brought in in order to question her whether this claim is true, as Proctor states that Elizabeth has never lied in her life

       However, Elizabeth lies and states that her husband has never committed the crime of lechery, in order to protect Proctor's name.

       Suddenly all the girls start pointing to the ceiling, as if they were seeing a yellow bird and pretend that they are controlled by Mary Warren.

       Mary Warren accuses Proctor of being the 'Devil's man'.

       The scene ends in chaos, Hale quits the court.

 

 

Themes, Motifs & Connotations:

Heroism

Miller's idea of a hero, is an everyday man who is struggling against the forces he cannot overcome. Therefore the hero of this play is Proctor and the hero characteristics are evident throughout this scene. Firstly, Proctor is fighting to dignity and therefore does not only fight to save himself or his wife, but also all of his friends that are wrongly accused and thus do not deserve to die. Secondly, another aspect of heroism that Miller conveys is the struggle between Proctor and the stronger forces, thus the court and the authorities. Since he is the individual against the stronger forces in society he will therefore triumph and defeat them, however according to Miller is is this struggle which makes him heroic.

Relation to 1960's America

The struggle that Proctor is experiencing against the stronger forces in society mimics the struggle against McCarthyism in 1960's America. The parallel between the court and witch-hunts in the crucible and McCarthyism in America is clear throughout this scene. This is done by highlighting the absurdity of the situation and accusations of this 'invisible crime' based on no evidence, and mostly fear and paranoia, and thus through demonstrating the insanity of this situation Miller wants us to draw the parallel to 1960s America and thus come to realization the similar ridiculous situation.

 

Religion and the Devil

Throughout this scene the idea of the devil and associations to witchcraft is continued throughout this extract, as the court is continuing to accuse women of associations with the Devil, based on no evidence. Throughout this scene the references to religion and the devil is utilised in order to once again draw attention to the fact that no one can be accused of this 'invisible crime' yet the characters do believe in this witchcraft and thus get 'entangled' in the situation, continuously accusing people. Therefore this theme is used in order to show how clearly we can see the absurdity of this situation of witch hunts and therefore he wants us to come to realisation that McCarthyism is similarly clearly ridiculous.

 

 

Characters:

Proctor

Proctor is the obvious hero in this book, as he is the character struggling against stronger authorities, and therefore it is this feature and this struggle which according to Miller makes him heroic. Therefore Miller possibly wants the audience to come to the realisation of the absurdity of McCarthyism and therefore, similar to Proctor, and stand up against these forces despite them being stronger.

 

Hale

Throughout this scene Hale is one of the most important characters, as he also has some heroic qualities present throughout this scene. Hale was previously persuaded by the presence of witches as he was an expert on the matter, however the fact that he comes to a realisation of the absurdity of the situation shows a definite heroic element. This realisation and dramatic change as he ultimately quits the court, as he is disgusted by its functioning possibly also reflects Miller's belief that the average American can also come to such realisation of the ridiculous functioning of authorities and McCarthyism in 1960s America.

 

Elizabeth

Elements are revealed about Elizabeth throughout this scene, as despite the fact that she was previously angry at Proctor and his affair with Abigail (evident in the previous scene at the dinner table), in this situation she protects him and thus lies about the affair. When she does this, as an audience we sympathize with her, as she attempts to save her husband's name and protect him by lying, however does not know that telling the truth about the situation, in this case, could have saved her.

 

Abigail

She is continued to be portrayed in the same manner as in previous scenes, as her manipulative character is clearly evident. Despite the fact that she is using this manipulation in order to falsely accuse women, as an audience we possibly slightly admire the extent of her manipulative skills, as she manages to persuade the court and the judges that she is correct, even though she has no evidence and further persuades them that she is controlled by Mary Warren through her dramatic acting.

 

Males and Females

From a feminist's perspective, it could be argued that male characters such as Proctor and Hale have depths to their characters as she both change and develop throughout the scene (and the play). This contrasts to the female characters who seem to be used more as plot devices (such as Abigail, Goody Proctor, Goody Nurse), as there is less psychological realism with the female characters and thus a more stereotypical depiction. This is further evident as the elements of heroism are present only in Proctor and Hale, in contrast Elizabeth who does not go through a similar heroic struggle as they do.

 

 

Setting:

This scene is set within the court which reflects the controlling nature of the authorities as they are in control in the court scene. Furthermore, the fact that it is set inside continues to reflect the conservative nature of the town of Salem, and thus it is due to this conservative and puritanical nature of the town and characters that escalates the situation into chaotic and ridiculous witch-hunts.

 

 

Relation of Part to Whole:

This scene reflects the book as a whole, due to the elements of heroism presents in Proctor and notably Hale, as Hale ultimately comes to realisation of the ridiculous situation happening in the court and therefore quits the court. This is the realisation that Miller wants us to come to, concerning McCartyism and thus notice that something so clearly ridiculous is also happening in 1960s America. Therefore this scene is further utilised in order to reinforce Miller's main ideas of creating a parallel between the witch hunts and McCarthyism.