How does Miller use expressionist dramaturgy in "The Crucible" and what are some examples?

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

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Arthur Miller relies on expressionist dramaturgy in several ways for The Crucible. First, the subject matter itself connects closely to expressionism which often focuses on taboo subjects. In writing about the Salem Witch Trials and comparing them to the Red Scare, Miller knew that he was going to shock many people from his time period. He strongly criticizes religious hypocrisy and "neighborly" greed.

In regards to dramaturgy, Miller's stage directions, especially those before Acts 1 and 3, demonstrate expressionism through their focus on the use of light. For Act 1, Miller describes Rev. Parris's room as having sunlight streaming through a narrow window, and for Act 3, sunlight again illuminates the courtroom as the act begins. It is as if the natural world (represented by sunlight) tries to assert itself within a world full of humanity's darkness and denial of the truth. Similarly, many expressionist works feature emotional outbursts from characters. This is certainly true of The Crucible--from Mary Warren's breakdown, to Rev. Hale's "quitting the court," to John Proctor's passionate cries against injustice, the emotional scenes annihilate the strait-laced Puritan veneer.

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