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What are the main dramatic functions of each act in The Crucible?

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doublea137 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:39 AM via web

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What are the main dramatic functions of each act in The Crucible?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 2, 2011 at 10:39 AM (Answer #1)

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Act 1: EXPOSITION and INCITING INCIDENT: Miller introduces the problem of the society through Abigail Williams influence over the other young girls in the community. In Abigail's own house, the problem of demonic possession comes under intense scrutiny. The ensuing pressure causes her to invoke the participation of the girls in accusing other townspeople of being "with" the Devil. The Act ends with the horrific question of what is to come of these accusations.

Act 2: RISING ACTION: The struggling marriage of John and Elizabeth Proctor is put on display to portray one such set of good and moral people who have problems. These people are vunerable to manipulation by Abby Williams because she and John had encountered a previous affair. The ensuing action between John and Elizabeth builds their living through this adultery in their marriage and the aftermath. As the Act comes to a close, a question of Elizabeth's character is presented as the Proctors are asked about church attendance and their knowledge of the Ten Commandments. Mary Warren, their servant, has given Elizabeth a poppet which will eventually be taken as a voodoo doll in the eyes of the court. Elizabeth is charged with witchcraft and in her anger she utters her anger at Abigail in what comes out of her mouth as a threat to Abby's life.

Act 3: RISING ACTION: Proctor tries to get evidence together in terms of a statement from Mary Warren and testimony of his friends. He takes his presentation to the court. The court questions Mary until she rejoins her friends. John confesses himself a lecher. Elizabeth is called to testify to John's truthfulness and she lies for him. The only problem is that he told the truth. John is taken to jail.

Act 4: CLIMAX, FALLING ACTION and RESOLUTION:The town is in total disarray because of the trials. Hale makes the effort to help John confess the lie that he is practicing witchcraft. John wavers. Even at the opportunity to spend some time with Elizabeth as he learns of her pregnancy, he still cannot be challenged beyond his moral obligation to do the right thing. He eventually refuses to confess and hangs in the closing scene.

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