Analytical Essay Sample on “The Crucible”: Different Interpretations

Posted on July 14, 2010

Essay: texts can be read in different ways. Choose two readings of “The Crucible”, and analyse their different interpretations in terms of the focus of their argument, foregrounding of information and language use.

Different people interpret things differently. Many things can influence such an interpretation. To understand this concept two different reviews of the film “The Crucible” will be examined. These two reviews will demonstrate that texts, in this case, “The Crucible”, can be read differently. Both reviews have distinctive elements of style and focus on different aspects of the text. While both reviews have pragmatic values, commending the actors on their performances, the two reviews focus on separate aspects of the film. The first review, written by Bill Crucie concentrates on the social context of the film, and its entertainment value. It is written informally with extensive colloquial language and Crucie uses exaggeration that boarders on hyperbole. Crucie’s review disagrees with the second review on the matter of characterization, and how they are represented. Crucie’s report of the characters is different due to the different angle he takes. The second review, by Greg King, analyses the film, not from an entertainment angle, like Crucie, but from a context view. King writes a formal piece, from a far more objective angle. The review focuses on the political context of the film. Both reviews differ, and it is this difference that illustrates the ability to contain different meanings, and evoke different readings.

The two reviews focus on different aspects, foregrounding what they each think is important. The foregrounding of different ideas illustrates the different interpretations. Both share the notion that the film contains universal themes; however this is the only common thought. The two reviews focus on different aspects, for the reason that they are each aimed at dissimilar audiences. Crucie focuses on the social context of the film, its entertainment value and what he believes to be the main ideas of the film. The social context is discussed in depth, and combined with the use of personal pronoun, colloquial language, and hyperbole, creates a familiar tone, doused with excitement. “They chant and dance, wishing for men that they love” this line shows the social element of the review. Crucie is able to recreate the film, discussing the social elements. Combined with the tone, the responder is almost able to hear the tone of Crucie’s voice, and see his face animated as he discusses Abigail’s affair. Crucie discusses the entertainment value held by the film. Crucie plays up the love story, elaborating extensively, and creates an unrealistic expectation from the responder, by claiming the film has undercurrents of all genres. “…is able to combine romance, suspense, comedy, and much more…” This kind of exaggeration continues throughout the review, adding to the already created tone of excitement. Similar to the exaggeration, this kind of generalization is able to appeal to people of all kinds of, creating the impression that this film falls into all categories, and will be enjoyed by all. The themes of the film are also identified by Crucie. He is able to link the idea of power with the sexual endeavors of the characters. King’s review however focuses on entirely different points. King focuses far more on the historical and political context of the play. This is introduced immediately with comparisons being made between the McCarthy era, and the witch trials. “As an indictment of the frenzied mass hysteria of the McCarthy era and the parallels with the poisonous politics and relentless persecution – are unmistakable.” This instantly provides the review with a more serious tone, enabling it to take a formal, sophisticated approach. Similar to Crucie, King identifies some of the themes present within the film. “Paranoia, betrayal, persecution, bigotry” King also is able to recognize the unlikely hero in the character of John Proctor. King elaborates on this opinion discussing indirectly the elements of the unlikely hero. Both articles concur that the film contains universal themes, relevant in any context. “Themes are very much present in today’s society” and “powerful themes are still relevant forty years later.” Quotes from the respective reviews illustrate this. The two reviews focus on different aspects of the film, with Crucie’s review concentrating on the entertainment values, while King focuses on the historical and political aspects of the film.

While the reviews focus on different aspects they also use different techniques to achieve this. Crucie employs a familiar, excited tone, while King uses a more sophisticated style of writing. “I remember many classics in high school” this is the opening line of Crucie’s review. Immediately he creates a familiar tone by using the personal pronoun, to create trust, and an anecdote. To compare this with King’s opening line, “paranoia, betrayal” all important ingredients of this powerful film adaptation” it is clear that the initial tone created is different. King creates a formal tone. Crucie initiates an excited tone by using exaggeration bordering on hyperbole. The language that Crucie employs is very informal and extensive colloquial language is utilized. This combines with the exaggeration to create a relaxed piece of writing. King’s word choice varies greatly to that of Crucie’s. King uses a wider variety of language, with a much better vocabulary. This creates a formal sophisticated piece of writing. King uses constant superlatives to create a favorable review of the actors, “magnificent job”, “superb job”. King also chooses strong emotive words to express a subtle opinion. This is shown in the description of Abigail, “spiteful, vengeful”, and achieves the composer’s objective of positioning the responder. To add to the formal tone, King utilizes the effect of using historical information, which provides a structured review and an acceptable level of formality. King, in addition provides a slight tonal change, where he slowly begins to include his opinion, this is seen with the addition of emotive words. This allows him to position the reader favorably. King also provides commentary on the story, and the characters, again assisting his positioning of the composer. He comments on the stylistic elements, and this reflect the style of the piece, “deftly shifts the emphasis away from its stage origins, focusing the attention on the intense confrontations and the rich characters”. This technique is also made use of by Crucie. He provides a running commentary on the development of the love story, and the characters, “as the love story evolves” paranoid village”. Again this mirrors the style of the writing. Along with this commentary, contrasting King’s technique is a very strong opinion, designed to openly position the responder. Another technique Crucie employs is contradiction. The following two lines demonstrate this. “Serious suspense provides a heart-pounding climax”, and “For a film desperately relying on the power of its actors,” These lines, and the contradiction present highlights the actors abilities, after continues superlatives praising the entertainment value of the film. The two reviews use different techniques to highlight their desired focuses, and to position the reader in their respective favors. CrucieТs review uses simpler language, and a less formal style, while King exhibits his sophisticated, formal style in his article. These techniques echo the chosen style, and ultimately their choice of aspects focused upon.

The two reviews each focus on different aspects and elements of the film. Crucie identifies the love story, and is able to sympathize with the character of Abigail. King on the other hand, foregrounds the parallels between the film and the McCarthy era. King also discusses Abigail’s motives, and the hidden hero in proctor. Crucie identifies the evil within Abigail,” she realizes she has the power to condemn anyone she wants.” But then continues and justifies this evil.” Of course, the power is an undeniably strong and almost erotic sensation.” Crucie seems to almost sympathize with Abigail. He recognizes that her motives and resultant power are enough to justify her actions. Despite acknowledging that Abigail was the ring leader, Crucie does not extend his sympathy to the girls, and their actions. “As all the girls know, if you deny witchcraft, you are hanged.” Crucie’s interpretation of Mary Warren is not as one would expect. In the film, Mary risks her life to tell the truth, so one would expect the description of this to be favorable, yet Crucie uses a monotonous tone to describe Mary’s actions. Finally Crucie is able to recognize the hidden hero in Proctor. “His flawed hero” as Crucie describes it, is in fact very flawed. Crucie spotlights Proctors flaws, and mistakes continually throughout the review, “who once had an affair with her”. Similar to crucie, King points out the unlikely hero that is John Proctor. He however does not necessarily flaunt Proctors flaw, as Crucie did. King uses superlatives to commend the character of Proctor, “strength and courage”, and appears sensitive with his situation. Contrasting to Crucie’s views on Abigail are King’s comments on Abigail. King recognizes the evil and horrible character, and dismisses the motives. He describes her as “spiteful, vengeful”, and then recognizes that her corrupt nature is infecting the whole town. Crucie retells the story, adding overtones of his opinions. He comments on the characters and the events unraveling, “the rest of the girls know exactly what she is doing”. He also highlights the love story, and identifies other plots occurring simultaneously. Crucie enjoys the concept of a love story thoroughly, and identifies elements common with both “The Crucible”, and a typical love story. Crucie links this with emotive words, which emphasizes the concept of a love story. Combined with this “another parallel plot emerges”. This parallel plot is linked with following emotive terms, and takes on its own status as almost a second film. Crucie expands of the elements of the film, discussing extensive use of suspense and its effectiveness. “Most suspenseful”, and “serious suspense”, are used to describe depicted scenes. Crucie then commends the actors on their terrific depiction of their respective characters. King does this also. King uses superlatives to commend the actors on their brilliant representations of their characters. “Rare depth and emotional range”. King also discusses the parallels between the film and events occurring in the McCarthy era. He describes these links as being obvious, and unmistakable. King acknowledges that background knowledge is unnecessary in order to appreciate the film, and describes it as a “provocative piece of drama.” Similarly to Crucie King provides commentary on the plot unfolding. He adopts a tone of mockery when discussing the events of the town. King provides a more objective tone when discussing the social elements of the film, but a great deal of commentary when discussing the characters. Finally, King comments on the changes occurring when adapted for film. He highly praises the changes, “deftly shifts the emphasis away from its stage origins, focusing attention on the intense confrontations and the rich characters that propel the dramatic narrative” identifies genre, and focusing on the setting, and brilliant shoots. The two reviews have interpreted the film in different ways. This is shown in their different appreciations of the film, its characters and elements typical with the genre.

Both reviews have similar focuses. They indentify the universal themes, praise the actor, and comment on the plot. However, this is the extent of their harmony. When different people view a text they will interpret it in different ways, depending on their background. To see this difference an analysis of the focuses, techniques and interpretations is used. As the two reviews did in fact focus on different aspects, and utilize different styles and techniques, it can be understood that Bill Crucie and Greg King interpreted the film in different ways. As well as different focuses and techniques, Crucie and King fore grounded different ideas, and aspects. This confirms the notion that different text can be read in different ways.

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