Discuss the similarities and differences of Miller and Hawthorne's use of language in 'The Crucible' and 'The Scarlet Letter'. You should include in your answer reference to the importance of genre.

Essay by SteftacularA-, February 2003

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Whilst 'The Crucible' and 'The Scarlet Letter' are two works of different genre, their subject matters are very similar; they both explore the effects of the restrictive nature of the Puritanical society present in 17th Century America. Interestingly, they both share common devices and styles, in that biblical diction is present in both, as is earthy language. However, the language used by Miller and Hawthorne is chosen to reflect their interpretations and opinions of the events discussed, and there are inevitably several contrasts in their approaches, particularly to the characters' dialogue.

As 'The Crucible' is a play, it is concerned mostly with dialogue, save Miller's various informative interludes, whilst 'The Scarlet Letter' is a novel and makes use of descriptive, figurative and allegorical language, although dialogue is still present. When deciding how to write his dialogue, Miller studied the transcripts of the Salem trials in order to gain an insight into the grammatical forms and the dialects used at the time.

He decided their accent to be Northumbrian, or perhaps Scottish, though I feel that the unusual frequency of subjunctive verb forms; "There be no blush about my name" and "That were only soup" implies a West-Country or Yorkshire accent. In contrast, Hawthorne looked to the James I authorised edition of the Bible and the language of Shakespeare to produce the dialogue in 'The Scarlet Letter'. This is demonstrated by the use of the intimate and familiar pronoun "thou"; "If thou feelest it to be for thy soul's peace and that thy earthly punishment will thereby be made more effectual to salvation..." which is not present in 'The Crucible'.

Biblical references are present in the speech of characters from both pieces, reflecting the importance given to the teachings of the Bible in Puritan societies.