Homework Help

Do you perceive the end of Act III as a “turning point”?The end of Act III is often...

user profile pic

bobsanders | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 19, 2009 at 4:32 PM via web

dislike 2 like
Do you perceive the end of Act III as a “turning point”?

The end of Act III is often a climax or turning point in a play (Shakespeare plays, for instance).

4 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 20, 2009 at 12:40 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 1 like

This is a thought-provoking question, especially in its reference to Shakespeare. A Shakespearean tragedy reaches its climax, or turning point, in Act III, is followed by falling action in Act IV, and concludes with resolution and denouement in Act V. This plot structure was identified and examined by Gustav Freytag, a German novelist, in the 1800s. Since Shakespeare's dramas are structured in five acts and The Crucible is a drama in four acts, some structural inconsistencies must exist. The climax of a drama is the high point of the drama, the moment of greatest interest and dramatic tension. At this moment, the outcome of the major conflict of the work is determined. So what is the final dramatic climax of The Crucible

Act III may be interpreted as the climax of John Proctor’s conflict with the powers of church and state that are driving the witch trials; he fails in his attempts to stop the madness. The climax of the play’s most compelling conflict, however, occurs in Act V when Proctor struggles with himself: to die with integrity or to live with shame.

When he tears up his confession, the play reaches its ultimate dramatic climax. At the end of Act III, John Proctor’s plight is far more difficult, but his greatest test of character still lies before him. A final turning point remains.

user profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 20, 2009 at 12:40 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Act III, in The Crucible is a turning point, several important points of the plot turn leading to the resolution in Act IV.  For example, Proctor confesses to adultery in Act III in an effort to shake Abigail's hold over the court, instead of helping him, it seals his fate.

In order to prove the charge of adultery, Elizabeth Proctor is brought in to verify the claim, she lies to protect her husband's reputation.  

Mary Warren turns on Proctor under pressure from Abigail's charade about seeing a bird flying in the court, that she claims is Mary's spirit.  Mary accuses Proctor of trying to force her to follow the devil.

Proctor is arrested and thrown in jail along with Giles Corey, who refuses to name the individual who told him about Thomas Putnam instructing his daughter Ruth to accuse George Jacobs of witchcraft.

Reverend Hale quits the court and leaves Salem at the end of Act III, this is a very significant turning point.  Hale becomes convinced that the court is being used as an instrument of vengeance by members of the town and that the truth has been subverted in favor of maintaining the court's authority.

The actions of the characters in Act III, lead up to the resolution that occurs in Act IV.

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 21, 2009 at 12:49 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

Hale also begins to question the purpose of the judges in this Act as well.  His own unfaltering faith in the system is shaken and he begins to believe the girls have been lying...however, the judgements will not be reversed because they have already been made.  The court does not wish to undermine its own authority by admitting it was wrong, so more innocent people are made to die.

user profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 6, 2010 at 3:39 PM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

I believe the end of Act III is a turning point, though I do not necessarily believe it's the climax/crisis of the play--in other words, it's a turning point but not the turning point.  In the Proctor's relationship, this is a turning point, as each is willing to speak what they'd rather not in front of the court--he speaks the truth to save her, and she speaks a lie to save him.  John's willingness to make such a damning public confession (remember, adultery was an offense punishable by death in this community) does, indeed, cause the judges to reconsider the trustworthiness of the girls--and especially Abigail.  While all of this is true, nothing really changes; that's why I don't believe this is THE turning point in The Crucible

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes