In Act 2 of The Crucible, how do we learn what is happening in town?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One way in which we learn what is happening in Salem is through other people's words.  Miller captures the mood and feeling within Salem perfectly by refusing to give us an objective view of what is happening. Everything is being pieced together from what other people are saying.  Through this technique, we feel almost as helpless as the other characters.  At the same time, it communicates the actual feel of Salem that is overcome with innuendo and accusation along with little in the way of evidence.

Conversations such as the one between Elizabeth and John reflects what is happening in the town. It is revealed that Mary Warren has been privy to the trials in town.  She returns and tells the Proctors what has been transpiring in terms of judgments and imprisonment.  Later on in the scene, Hale comes in and talks about how it is essential to carry on the appearance of piety in the face of all that is happening.  Finally, when Francis Nurse and Giles Corey enter, it is clear that what is happening in town is a descent into chaotic accusations and imprisonment.  This is enhanced with Cheever arriving to look for a needle and to arrest Elizabeth.  There is a spiraling lack of control in Salem.  This is communicated through the rumor mill and the reality of people being arrested without any just cause.  In hearing about this through piecemeal insight and observations, Miller is able to communicate the chaos in Salem and what is happening within it.

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