The audience observing would be enticed by the mood swings of characters and their persecution for such crimes in the theocratic village, where interrogated citizens in the dense society were forced to name other possible witches. If they failed to produce names of others, they would be hanged ruthlessly. The inhabitants of Salem believed in witches and the Devil and that the Bible had instructed them that witches must be hanged.
A feeling of inequity is sensed here. The events of the play, first performed in England in 1954, are analogous to the McCarthy era in the USA , where anyone suspected of criticising the government or its direction was to be brought before a court to respond to the charge of Un-American Activities. The opening scene in The Crucible immediately gives the audience a feeling of a sinister and lifeless atmosphere: A candle still burns near the bed ¦
The roof rafters are exposed, and the wood colours are raw and unmellowed. Reverend Parris is discovered ¦ , evidently in prayer. His daughter ¦ is lying on the bed, inert. (Act One, p1) The candle beside the bed indicates a slight source of light, perhaps hope that Betty will wake. The environment around is silent. The rafters are bare, and the wood is: raw. The Reverend is peacefully in prayer and his daughter is lying, as if lifeless, on the bed.
A prayer is a silent act which emphasises the mood of the room. The imagery illustrates a dark, dull and demoralising sector of the Reverends home. The description of the stage in the opening scene creates a false impression for the audience as the majority observing the play would now expect a lethargic plot, with limited excitement and monotonous dialogue with little emotion, but actually it is a play full of overdramatic behaviour and emotion.