When Mrs. Putnam is introduced for the first time, she is described as “a twisted soul of forty-five, a death-ridden woman, haunted by dreams”, which is not precisely what you would call an emboldening description. Through her aperture lines, we can facilely optically discern that Mrs. Putnam is a very manipulative and assertive woman, who believes in witchcraft, as she instantly believes that Betty’s quandary has been caused by witchcraft. As far as Mr. Putnam is concerned, albeit his introductive description states “a well-to-do, hard-handed landowner, near fifty”, it does not tell us much about him. However, his description in page 22, he is called “vindictive”, instantly revealing more about his character. The line “so many accusations against people are in the handwriting of Thomas Putnam” reveals that he is more kindred to his wife than we first expected.
“They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world.” This quotation emanates from Miller’s long exordium at the commencement of the play. Though these are words not verbalized in the authentic play, this note from the author is critical, particularly in establishing the parallel between the Salem of 1692 and the Washington of the 1950s. In both cases, prominent bellwethers believed that they were bulwarking a society and way of life that was not just good, but could be a model for the rest of the world. The metaphor of the candle is telling, as it implicatively insinuates a darkness threatening the light. When one cerebrates of one’s mission as bulwarking the light of the world, it is facile to justify extreme quantifications.
“There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!” Ann Putnam’s statement—spoken in reference to what is, in her mind, the unsolved murder of her seven dead newborns—captures in vivid language the paranoid and conspiratorial mindset that sanctions a witch-hunt to take root. She is agog to optically discern in the most minute things denouements of some hidden malevolent plot. However, at the same time, ironically, her words could be used to explain the whole witch hunt and the very damaging events that happen in Salem. To the audience it becomes clear; there are wheels within wheels within Salem, and these hidden motivations and undisclosed petty jealousies are the real driving force behind the witch hunt, far more than the actual existence of any witchcraft.
“Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven” (Hale) This means that your nature can change based upon your actions. God thought the Devil was beautiful at first, but when the Devil turned against God, he was cast out.
“We are what we always were but naked now.”(John Proctor) This quote has a lot of significance because of what he’s really trying to prove. He is saying that they are “naked” now which suggests that they are out in the open and vulnerable. In one second, they can have everything taken from then, just one accusation of witchcraft. Abigail Williams made Elizabeth Proctor feel “naked” when she accused her just so she can have her husband and take her place.
“Now, children, this is a court of law. The law, based upon the Bible, and the Bible, writ by Almighty God, forbid the practice of witchcraft, and describe death as the penalty therof. But likewise, children, the law and Bible damn all beaters of false witness.” Danforth said this to the people in the court. He was explaining the fact that you maybe able to lie here on earth and get away with it, but the heavenly father (God) knows the truth. And he’s the one that chooses whether you go to heaven or to hell. So do not falsy accuse anyone of something they didn’t do, and do not be a falso witness to a false case, because in the end it will hurt you into to going to heaven or to hell. Danforth is pretty much threatening and scaring the people with Gods will, that no one else has, besides God
“I think not, or you should surely know that Cain were an upright man, and yet he did kill Abel”. Parris says this to Proctor. This quote means that even good people can commit crimes. Proctor was questioned about his reading on the Gospel. Parris states that if Proctor does read the Gospel it doesn’t stop him from worshipping the devil. Therefore, this shows that you can’t trust anyone during this time.