“We cannot flinch; these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court—the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points! …in great pain: Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven” (1244).
Mass paranoia, confusion, fear
Despite being an educated man, Hale is fully embracing the witch-hunt and keeps advocating it. The people of Salem are too afraid to question the validity of the witchcraft claims because even “God thought him beautiful in Heaven” -an hour before the Devil fell-. How can common men of Salem identify the Devil correctly? “Ancient friendships” are no longer relevant because anyone, even a close friend can be in the league with the Devil. Although it is not important whether the person is a Devil-worshipper or not because the people of Salem do not “dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points”, Hale himself appears to believe that anyone accused has the potential of being a Devil-worshipper and worth to be interrogated. Since the way of the Devil is “so subtle” that the people of Salem “should be criminal” even to trust their friends now. The small bits of evidence seem to be forced or plotted, but according to Hale, all such proofs were real, “frightful”, and more than enough to be used to convict the accused. There appears to be a very thin line between being a devote Christian and a devil-worshipper, even to sensible Mr. Hale.
“If she is innocent! Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers? I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem-vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrant’s vengeance” (1246)!
The people of Salem expect that their legal system, based on the Bible, has the truth of God, However, it is being manipulated very easily as in this case. Proctor mocks this notion by pointing out that the accusers may have their own selfish reasons for their accusations, but due to their holy legal system, their will commands the laws. Proctor refers this fact by the phrase “common vengeance writes the law”. He repeats this point –bravely- several times in the quote “vengeance is walking Salem” and “this warrant’s vengeance” to reinforce this idea. He clearly points the double standards in the current justice system by asking “Is the accuser always holy now”? He is questioning the innocence of Abigail and the girls by making radical comparison between them and the God’s fingers, which had inscribed the Ten Commandments. Even though Proctor uses an extreme comparison to mock the girls, the power they seized at Salem is far beyond their own rights. Deciding who will die and live is godly power as “jangling the keys of the kingdom” refers to. Proctor is simply pointing out the ridiculousness of the situation while trying to save his wife’s life. However, when fear and greed takes over; the logic becomes irrelevant, which makes all his efforts futile.
“Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped away-make your peace! He throws her to the floor, where she sobs, “I cannot, I cannot.” And now, half to himself, staring, and turning to the open door: Peace. It is providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. He walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky. Aye, naked! And the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow” (1248)!
Deception, adultery, guilt, honesty, punishment
Proctor has not been honest with his wife, Elizabeth, about his relationship with Abigail, which put Elizabeth in a vulnerable position. He feels guilty about it but at the same time until his wife gets taken to the jail upon accusation of Abigail for witch crafting, he never even considered admitting it. Adultery is one of the ten commandments and Proctor is expecting a lot of trouble for revealing it. Even though Elizabeth already senses it, Proctor may lose “peace” and happiness in his marriage forever. He may also be criticized harshly by the people for his sin. Also, he may make Abigail very mad, which is a crazy thing to do under the circumstances. Abigail wants to take place of Elizabeth and getting her killed is very easy for Abigail. Being at the verge of revealing such a shameful secret makes Proctor feel as if he is “naked” and “facing the open sky”. The quote repeats “naked” several times to emphasize the shame Proctor feels about revealing this secret. “Icy wind” represents the hurt he is expecting to feel afterwards due to brutal critism, shame and guilt.
“I cannot charge murder on Abigail”.
“She”ll kill me for saying that”!
“Abby will charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor”!
“I cannot, they’ll turn on me—“ (1248)
Even though Mary Warren is now official of the court helping girls to decide who is performing with craft, she is extremely scared of getting accused herself. She is very well aware of the extend of the evilness of Abigail and the girls and knows that they will seek revenge if she helps Proctor to clear Elizabeth’s name about the puppet. Mary W. feels extremely scared of Abigail as she uses the phrase “she’ll kill me” and “they’ll turn on me”, which means that Mary Warren would do anything they expect her to do such as blaming others of worshipping the Devil, or keeping puppets at their house to harm other people, which makes the Mary Warren a true puppet and Abigail and the girls true witches harming innocent people using the puppets like Mary Warren.
“Giles: That bloody mongrel Walcott charge her. Y’see he buy a pig of my wife four or five year ago, and the pig died soon after. So he come dancin’ in for his money back. So my Martha, she says to him, “Walcott, if you haven’t the wit to feed the pig properly, you’ll not live to own many,” she says. Now he goes to court and claims that from that day to this he cannot a pig alive for more than four weeks because my Martha bewitched them with her books” (1244)
Martha gets accused of wicth craft by Walcott just because the pig he purchased from her dies –probably because Walcott did not take care of the pig well-. However, the accusation is that Martha is practicing witch craft with her books. Walcott seems to be taking advantage of the current insanity to resolve past enmity. Even though Giles seems very upset about the situation and finds Walcott’s accusations groundless, in Act I, it was him trying to use Hale’s influence to spy on his wife and learn about what kind of books she was reading and accusing her with “the stoppage of prayer”. Giles seems to have initiated the fall of his loved one unintentionally. About Walcott’s accusation and the logic: Even though there may be many other reasons for the pig to die after its purchase from Martha and there is no obvious correlation between two events, the court choses to treat this case with extreme and concludes that the pig died because Martha was practicing witch craft. It is a long jump, very illogical conclusion.