What sensory details and images are used in The Crucible? 

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a play, which means the author intends for the work to be seen and heard as well as read.  Think about where the sensory images and details are found in most novels, and you would probably say in the descriptive paragraphs more than the dialogue.  Aside from stage directions, a play only has dialogue, so the appeals to the senses come mostly from the actions rather than the words the characters speak. 

In this particular play, several incidents make a deliberate appeal to the senses.  One is when Abigail slaps and shakes Betty hard in an attempt to rouse her from her stupor--both sound and touch.  Another is the screaming and pointing girls crying out the names of the "witches" in town--both sound and touch.  When we hear that Giles Corey was pressed to death, we feel the weight of those stones (touch) and hear the softness of his last words--"More weight" (sound).  

There are plenty of sensory images which are not necessarily written into lines but are striking to watch--like the awkwardness between the Proctors in their home, the climactic courtroom confessions which rely as heavily on their faces (visual) as on any lines they actually speak.  There are, of course, sounds associated with all of these events--a gavel falling, girls both "crying out" and crying, the chains of imprisonment, the weeping--and probably early on, the cheering--at the hangings. 

Other scenes which appeal to the senses include the imagery of the girls dancing around at night in the woods and casting spells (and Parris evidently skulking around in the woods, watching them) and the final courtroom scene in which the girls mimic Mary Warren and then act as if a bird is attacking them. 

This is a story full of dramatic moments, and most of those are enhanced by the use of sensory imagery and details.

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