The Crucible


Act Two

It is eight days later, and the scene shifts to the Proctor house. John has just come in from a long day in the fields. He sits down to the dinner Elizabeth has cooked for him, and the two make small talk about the work to be done in the field, the weather, and the meal. They are exceedingly polite to one another, and we can sense each going out of his way to be kind and not stir the other up; lurking between them is the unspoken matter of John’s affair with Abigail. Evidently their farm is a fair distance from the town itself, and Elizabeth eventually asks if John has been to Salem. The question reflects her ongoing concern about any contact between her husband and Abigail. Salem and Abigail come up again when Elizabeth mentions that their servant, Mary Warren, is in town despite John’s orders that she stay away.

It seems Mary Warren has been serving in an official capacity with the court that has been set up to rule on the charges of witchcraft. Without John realizing it, the investigation has become quite a big deal: Four judges have come from Boston, in addition to the provincial deputy governor, as well as 14 townspeople have been arrested and are awaiting trial. John at first assumes that nothing will come of the nonsense, but Elizabeth assures him that the town has “gone wild.” Their former servant, Abigail, has taken center stage, organizing a group of girls who are instrumental in passing judgment on others: If they respond dramatically to a person brought before them, their reaction is viewed as evidence that the person has been “bewitching” them.

John has previously told Elizabeth that Abigail initially claimed that there was no witchcraft involved, and she insists that John go into town and inform officials of this fact. He agrees but hesitates, saying that he is unsure how he can prove his side of the story. Thus it comes out that he and Abigail were alone when they had this conversation, not among others as he had first said. The issue of his affair now out in the open, the exchange between husband and wife...

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