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The Crucible Essay, Research Paper

Tone Shift between Act I and Act II

of Arthur Miller’s

The Crucible

The tone changes from maddened anticipation at the end of act one to somber falseness at the beginning of act two. The author’s diction highlights the tones of hysteria and excitement at the conclusion of act one. “Rising to a great glee,” Abigail exclaims, “I saw Goody Sibber with the Devil!” Accusations from Abigail and Betty are flying everywhere. All logical thinking, reasoning and organization have vanished from Salem. Also, Reverend Hale utters, “Let the marshal bring the irons!” There is a definite sense of excitement around. The witches are out, and they are going to get them. The Devil will be driven out of Salem no matter what. In contrast, the author’s diction heightens the tones of somberness and falseness at the opening of act two. John Proctor states, “You ought to bring some flowers in the house.” Unlike the chaos at the end of act one, John and Elizabeth are totally calm and serious. Their actions coincide with a typical Puritan domestic lifestyle. Proctor also questions, “I think you’re sad again. Are you?” John and Elizabeth are experiencing serious marriage problems. Elizabeth is angered by John’s earlier sin of adultery with Abigail. They only remain together and put on a good face because of their Puritan beliefs. Proctor’s isolation from the rest of society can be seen through the change of tones established by the community’s frenzied excitement at the end of act one to John and Elizabeth’s calm deceitfulness at the start of act two.

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