Language Analysis on The Crucible
Uploaded by xsparklyvix on Sep 05, 2005
Language in The Crucible
One of the most remarkable aspects of ‘The Crucible’ is Miller's creation of believable dialogue. Miller uses language to effectively set the period and the tone for the play but successfully manages to ensure that it is typical of the language used by 17th century puritans. Although the language is partly based on Salem records, most of the dialogue is Miller’s own invention. The language is convincingly old-fashioned containing echoes of the King James Bible, but word-by-word, apart from a few archaic terms such as ‘poppet’, the vocabulary used is modern. Miller achieves his effects by changing verb tenses, linking words unusually and by using double negatives.
One of the most effective uses of language in the play, Is Miller’s use of old fashioned, outdated words such as ‘harlot’. Miller’s frequent use of words such as this ensures that the language maintains its period echo but is simple to understand. The dialogue constantly uses ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ which when said carry more emotion than a simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’ but is also easy to understand. Miller ensures he uses words that although are dated, do not faze the audience, other examples of this are ‘hearty’ (well), ‘bid’ (told) and ‘Goody’ (Mrs). The use of Goody as a title suggests a relationship between a couple as being strangely remote.
Miller also refers to dated objects in his dialogue to maintain this old fashioned feel. He constantly refers to words such as ‘poppet’, which in modern terms would be a doll but ensures the period idea is preserved. Other examples of this are ‘heifer’ and ‘writ’.
Miller maintains an unusual use of the verb ‘to be’, when hearing this, it is not hard to understand just makes the dialogue seem alien to our ears which ensures this period effect is kept. For example, Miller uses ‘it were’ instead of ‘it was’ and ‘there be’ instead of ‘there is’. He also uses this by prominently referring to the second person ‘you’, for example ‘Be you foolish’, instead of ‘You are a fool’.
There is rustic, colloquial feel to the language, which is helped by dropping the final ‘g’ from words. This is portrayed in phrases such as ‘dreamin’, ‘carryin’ and ‘nothin’.
Double negatives are another method used in achieving the archaic language. For example ‘he cannot discover no medicine’, which is used instead of ‘He cannot discover the medicine’ which is...