What effects does authorial intrusion yield in The Crucible?
In The Crucible, Arthur Miller provides ample text notes that go beyond the usual stage directions found in plays. These comments serve two different types of purpose, to present the play as literary work and to help guide its performance and production.
Miller anticipated that the play would be read as well as performed. It was his third original, full length play to be produced, and the first of those to be set in a different period. He had also adapted Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, so had some experience with historical, politically relevant material.
Miller's commentary helps the reader feel immersed in all aspects of a world from which they are distanced in time. While some of the comments are directions about action, much of the material explains the setting or gives the backstory of particular characters who enter the action. The reader is encouraged to see almost all the characters as whole persons with complex motivations.
In terms of the more customary aspect of production guidance, Miller alternates between emotion and action. This dual approach is especially important in a work whose primary themes are deception, hypocrisy, and corruption. Dialogue alone would be a misleading guide to actors or the director.
One example is presenting John Proctor's character more in terms of his own way of understanding himself, rather than through modern psychology: "He is a sinner." Similarly, when Elizabeth Proctor is torn about whether to back her husband's story, at one point she has no lines. The author tells us that she looks "as though she would speak but cannot...."