‘The Crucible’ Act 3 – Setting

For tomorrow, Tuesday 22nd March, you should write ONE PEE paragraph on how setting is used to create atmosphere in Act 3.

Here’s some notes to help:

  • In this Act, the action moves from the private spheres of The Parris and Proctor residences to the meeting house or church, which is now being used as the ‘highest court in the land’ where everyone’s business is open to scrutiny and can be used against them, underlining the fact that the church and the state are the same thing in Puritan society.
  • The setting is becoming more austere and sinister within this ‘forbidding’ room with its plain and heavy furniture. While one door leads outside, two doors lead inside to the main room of the meeting house, suggesting metaphorically perhaps that the route out of the courtroom is more difficult than the way in.
  • The effect of the setting is obviously to intimidate those individuals who come to ‘challenge’ the authority of the courts. It also creates sense of foreboding, foreshadowing the tragic conclusion to the play.
  • The stage is empty at the start of the act and the audience are aware of voices offstage. The atmosphere of the trial is disturbed with the interruptions of Giles and the uproar of the townsfolk, giving the impression that the action is spilling out onto the stage.
  • The stage directions to Act Three indicate that sunlight streams into the room from two high windows in the back wall. Miller’s use of lighting adds another dimension to the symbolism of the play. In an atmosphere of darkness, ignorance, and evil, a few shafts of pure light are visible coming from above, symbolizing goodness and truth.
  • Unfortunately, while the light burns brightly, it is not enough to overcome the overwhelming darkness of the witch-hunts. The setting is ironic and shows how far the concept of good and justice have been twisted.
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