At the beginning of act 2 it begins in the house of John and Elizabeth Proctor. John walks into the kitchen and adds some salt to the pot and sits down. Elizabeth walks in and serves Proctor some food. Proctor compliments her “It is well seasoned” This shows Proctor is metaphorically trying to make his relationship better with his wife. Both characters engage in idle conversation about the weather and the crops. Audiences would have felt that there may be something beneath the surface they both are avoiding talking about something. The conversation changes to witchcraft. Elizabeth mentions Abigail being accused and how she thought she was innocent.
John then says “If the girl’s a saint now, I think it is not easy to prove she’s a fraud, and the town gone so silly. She told it to me in a room alone – I have no proof of it.” Elizabeth then replies “You were alone with her?” this shows Elizabeth is still caught up with the affair and still can’t forget it. When Mary Warren enters, he grabs her and shakes her; He says “How do you go to Salem when I forbid it? Do you mock me? I’ll whip you if you dare leave this house again!” audiences would get the impression Proctor is not a very good person if he would talk to someone like that, and also a sinner who had an affair. When Reverend John Hale visits to tell them Elizabeth has been mentioned in court.
He asks both of them questions like why only two out of three of their children have been baptized. Elizabeth explains that she does not think of Parris to be holy so does not want her child to be baptized by him. Hale asks Elizabeth if she knows all Ten Commandments, she says she does, Hale asks Proctor and he says, “I- I am sure I do, sir.” Hale asks him to repeat them all Proctor does and names 9. Elizabeth says you forgot adultery John.
This shows Elizabeth still resents John for the affair. Audiences would have seen John as a sinner, and an aggressive man up to this point of the play. When Abigail charges Elizabeth, we see a more desperate side to John Proctor’s character. When Ezekiel Cheever comes to the Proctor house hold with a warrant to arrest Elizabeth, he finds a poppet of Mary Warrens. There is a needle in the middle, where Abigail stabbed herself. Proctor, in desperation pleads that it was not Elizabeth; “Why, she has done it herself! I hope you not taking this for proof, mister!” Proctor pleads with Herrick and Cheever; audiences may feel that he is saying these things to prove to Elizabeth how much he loves her. “I will fall like an ocean on that court! Fear nothing, Elizabeth.”
In court, Proctor attempts to defend his wife and says that Abigail has been pretending witchcraft. Many people have now been arrested, some even sentenced to death. Mary changes her testimony and confirms Proctor’s evidence. In act three Proctor is defending his wife, saying that Elizabeth dismissed Abigail from their household, was because Proctor and Abigail had an affair. Abigail denies this but Proctor asks Judge Hawthorne to fetch his wife and ask her, because she never lies.
Elizabeth is then summoned to court to say if Proctor is telling the truth. Danforth asks her why she dismissed Abigail and she lies for Proctor, this means that Proctor is arrested. “Danforth: Your husband- did he indeed turn from you? Elizabeth: My husband is a goodly man, sir. Danforth: Then he did not turn form you. Elizabeth: He- Danforth: Look at me! To your knowledge, has John Proctor ever committed the crime of lechery? Elizabeth: No, sir” Proctor is made to confess, or risk loosing his life. He decides to make a false confession to save his life, but however when he is made to sign his confession he refuses, he argues that his name is with him his whole life. The audience would have the impression that John Proctor is a good, self- respecting, brave man. John Proctor then went on to be hanged for a crime he didn’t commit.
My conclusion is that in the beginning of the play, John Proctor has the impression that he is a sinner with a past, who is trying to change into a better person but still with a violent and aggressive temper, However by the end of the play we see a different side to him. He changes into a man with dignity and pride, who is willing to die for his sins of lechery. I think he is trying to prove something to his wife, that he regrets his sins and is sorry. Arthur Miller uses long sentences in a dramatic way to add depth to The Crucible, to gives effect and suspense.