The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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In act 3 of The Crucible, how does irony contribute to developing the different characters?

Irony contributes to the development of different characters in act 3 of The Crucible. John Proctor has strong values and dislikes hypocrites. While reciting the Ten Commandments, John omits adultery, and then Miller uses situational irony through John’s later confession of adultery, which makes him hypocritical and results in his conviction. Miller also uses dramatic irony by showing how the always truthful Elizabeth lies about John’s adultery thinking it will save him, but the lie helps to convict him.

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Arthur Miller’s social drama The Crucible presents several types and instances of irony in the process of character development. For example, in act 3, the playwright demonstrates how the protagonist John Proctor is capable of violating his own values and how his wife Elizabeth alters her personality to her husband’s detriment.

John is the central character of the play. He is a strong-willed and principled man committed to his values and ethics. One of his greatest hatreds is that of hypocrisy. Early in the play, despite his strong sense of ethics, John has an affair with Abigail Williams (which makes him a hypocrite). Thereafter, when the Reverend Hale makes his rounds questioning townspeople about their Christian beliefs, John is asked to recite the Ten Commandments. In his response, he leaves out adultery.

In act 3, Miller employs the literary device of situational irony to further develop John’s character for his audience. Situational irony occurs when a literary character gets a...

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