How does Miller use irony in the play The Crucible? Explain.I have to support my answer with specific reference to the text.

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One irony in Act One revolves around the different stories Abigail tells different people. She tells her uncle, the Reverend Parris, that when she and her friends were dancing in the forest with Tituba, "It were sport . . . !" She also tells John Proctor, "We were dancin' in the woods last night, and my uncle leaped in on us. She took fright, is all." So far, then, Abigail has told people that the girls weren't really engaged in anything bad. However, we find out from Betty Parris that Abigail "drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife," a charm made with blood. This creates dramatic irony: we know more than Parris, than Proctor, than Hale or Putnam. Finally, at the end of the act, Abigail declares that she did "[write] in the [the Devil's] book" and that she wants to "go back to Jesus" now. But, because she told Parris and Proctor that it was only sport, and because she then begins to name other women in the villages who she claims to be witches she's seen with the Devil, further irony is created. We know she is lying—she has never seen the Devil or else the girls would have mentioned it in their private talks—and yet because her words confirm what some already suspected, Abigail is believed. We know more than most of the characters at this point.

These ironies allow us to grasp Abigail's character quickly: she is deceptive and manipulative and will do or say anything to get what she wants. Further, they allow us to see how easily the members of this community can be led into hysteria.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miller uses dramatic irony to create anxiety and tension in a critical scene in The Crucible

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience, along with certain characters on stage, is aware of a particular piece of information which is hidden from another character (or characters) on stage. 

When Mary Warren brings the doll to Elizabeth after returning from participating in the witch-trials, a moment of dramatic irony occurs. In this scene the authorities come to the Hale house and accuse Elizabeth of using voodoo to harm Abigail Williams. 

Elizabeth is asked if she has any dolls in the house. When she denies the presence of any dolls saying that she does not keep any dolls in the house, the audience is fully aware of the fact that Mary Warren has just brought in a doll. 

The authorities are at first unaware of the doll, which is a moment of dramatic irony as the audience is aware of something which a character on stage is not, though quickly the doll is discovered. 

The use of irony here creates tension because the audience is able to anticipate the discovery of the doll before it takes place. 

Another example of irony can be seen in John Proctor's character. He is introduced as an adulterous husband attempting to extricate himself from the last ties of his affair. Yet, he is also the person who stands up to corruption. He is a liar, but he ultimately is willing to sacrifice his life for honor and for the truth.