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English Literature

Dramatic Effect

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The play has an especially powerful effect on an audience when it is performed in a theatre. When you are asked to write about dramatic effect you need to show that you understand how and why this impact happens to a live audience. This is a bit like thinking of how different it is to watch a film in a cinema than to read a film script (something that not many people do!).

The opening

  • There is a great sense of tension at the opening of the play. The audience sees a child lying unconscious and her clergyman father praying and weeping. He orders the black 'nanny', Tituba, out of the room in a state of uncontrolled fury. Why? What is going on? The audience is immediately drawn into the drama of the situation.
  • The tension is raised further when there is talk of "unnatural causes" and Parris orders his niece, Abigail, to conceal it from the village. She replies that "the rumour of witchcraft is all about".
  • The dramatic effect of plays and films sometimes depends on a gradual beginning and a powerful ending, sometimes on a shocking beginning and slow, fading ending, sometimes on something different. These large scale effects are referred to as the structure of the play.

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