The Crucibles Verbal Irony

Topics: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, Ten Commandments Pages: 2 (736 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Arthur Miller, one of America’s greatest playwrights, living or dead, is a master of verbal irony. An examination of three strong examples of verbal irony in Millers play, The Crucible, will prove this out. While Miller started the genre of the tragedy of the common man, and is also know for his thoughtful and decisive plot lines, much of his fame, possibly can be attributed to his brilliant use of language generally, and his use of verbal irony in particular. Amidst the drama of the court scene in Act III, Proctor and Mary Warren are being questioned in relation to Elizabeth’s possession of poppets. Parris is trying to prove the fact that maybe they were unaware of her possession of these, that she could have hidden her poppets. In a response to Proctor, Parris sites that “We are here, Your Honor, precisely to discover what no one has ever seen.” Parris’ meaning is very simple; he is simply commenting that the court is trying to discover the poppets that supposedly Elizabeth had hidden at her house, that no one has seen. But to read Miller, one must be more perceptive, and in examining this quote by Parris, there is another meaning behind it. As most know of the Salem witch trials, they specifically know the unjust and misled court system that was used to accuse the witches. The words uttered from Parris’ mouth at that instance are so contradictory of the court and ironic that from a reader’s standpoint, one is mixed between the emotion of laughter and tears. For the knowledge of the witch trials would allow one to know that they were nothing but a hoax. The court is out to discover what no one has seen. Knowing that there are no witches, then Parris is precisely right when he says this. It’s just the irony of Parris’ ignorance that makes this quote affective. The relationship between John and Elizabeth is brought to test throughout this play. The fact that John cheated on his wife and the fact...
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