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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes
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At the end of every play the loose ends have to be handled. This
is called the "denouement." Usually it comes in the last few
minutes of the play, following the catastrophe, that moment
when the hero's fortunes hit bottom.

In a way, all of Act IV of The Crucible, is denouement. The
catastrophe occurred at the end of Act III when Proctor was
betrayed by Mary Warren. Things can't get any worse. But there
are still loose ends, and Arthur Miller uses Act IV to tie them
up. He does this by once again focusing on the relationship
between John and Elizabeth Proctor. They have not seen each
other in the three months that have elapsed since Act III.
Considering what their last meeting was like, their reunion is
likely to be intense.

But first it must be set up. In this first scene we see two
deranged women, Tituba and Sarah Good, being cleared out of
their cell by a drunk Marshal Herrick. Apparently something
important is about to take place, because it's the middle of the

NOTE: In one short stroke Arthur Miller sets the mood and
hints at what's happened in the last three months. A cow bellows
outside the window, and both women jump up and answer,
thinking it's the Devil finally come to take them home. The
ordeal those poor souls have been through has unhinged their
minds. They have taken refuge from the insanity of the real
world in a blissful fantasy of singing and dancing where it's
always warm and the "Devil, him be pleasureman in Barbados."

But Herrick knows it's not Satan, "just a poor old cow with a
hatful of milk." It's a strange image, a cow in the middle of the
town, complaining through the night because she hasn't been
milked. We'll soon find out what it means.

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes

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