The Crucible: language

The Crucible: language

Language and Dialogue in ‘The Crucible’

  • “The Crucible” is written in Early Modern English, characteristic of the 17th century.
  • The playwright, Arthur Miller, employs biblical language to mimic the Puritan society of Salem and set an authentic period atmosphere in the drama.
  • Miller chooses dramatic language, charged with forceful emotional expressions and compelling dialogues, to intensify the tension and apprehension in the play.

Imagery, Symbols, and Motifs

  • The language of “The Crucible” is replete with motifs and symbols like the motif of heat and fire, standing for the hysteria and paranoia prevalent in the society.
  • Metaphors and similes are conspicuous in the play. Such stylistic devices enable Miller to formulate powerful, thought-provoking images, such as witchcraft being likened to a contagious disease.

Power Dynamics and Societal Norms

  • The application of formal, polite language in the dialogues between characters often accentuates the societal hierarchies and power interplays prevailing in Salem.
  • Sharp, restrictive, and judgemental language is employed to depict the strict moral codes of the Puritan community and their intolerance for deviations from norms and expectations.

Juxtaposition and Dramatic Irony

  • Miller strategically uses juxtaposition in his language - by placing contrasting characters or situations side by side, he throws light on the hypocrisy and fear-driven actions within Salem society.
  • Dramatic irony is a technique frequently used by Miller, where audience knowledge surpasses that of the characters. This technique generates suspense, and effectively engages the audience.

Characterization and Subtext

  • Dialogues in “The Crucible” often carry hidden meanings and subtext, indicative of the characters’ anxiety about revealing their thoughts and feelings in a suppressive society.
  • Miller’s language selection in “The Crucible” mirrors each character’s distinguishing personality and social rank. For example, the Proctors’ simple and earnest language reflects their moral standing, whereas characters like Parris and Putnam use intricate and manipulative language, signalling their dishonest and corrupt tendencies.

Don’t forget: A thorough understanding and analysis of the various uses and forms of language in “The Crucible” is key to fully comprehending the play and its themes.