What is the significance of the behind the scenes discussion between Hathorne, Danforth, Martha Corey, and Giles Corey in The Crucible?

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writergal06 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This scene opens Act III. In the stage directions, the author tells us that we are looking at an empty space, but hearing the voices from the court room. Martha Corey is being questioned by Danforth and Hathorne, and Giles interrupts the proceedings to offer evidence for the court. Angered by the disruption, the judges bring Giles into the space the audience has been observing, where the rest of the Act takes place. By starting the scene this way, Miller is able to accomplish a few things. We are able to develop opinions of Danforth and Hathorne before they are ever seen on stage. Their tones and words introduce the characters rather than their appearances. Miller is able to create suspense. Since we can't see the actions of the girls or see facial expressions, there are many details we must infer. Finally, and more practically, it enables the Miller to show the courtroom events without having to create two stage settings, thus allowing everything to take place in one Act, without interrupting the action.