Women in Salem in the Crucible
Here in the play, John Proctor is attempting to appeal to the logistical aspect of the issue at hand, which is that many innocent women in Salem have been accused and arrested for witchcraft. He is characterized by his honesty, bluntness and is an overall good man, except for one issue. He’s a lecherer. He had an affair with Abigail Williams while she was working in his home. She no longer works there, and John has tried to get the point across that a job isn’t the only thing she doesn’t have anymore. Abby conjured spirits in the woods to try and kill John’s wife, and many women have been arrested, including Elizabeth Proctor as the result of her claims of witchcraft. Abigail utilizes fear of “the other” in order to try to get Proctor back, even though she’s the one everyone should be afraid of.
Proctor knows that there is a logical explanation for all of the madness, so he tries to explain things as best he can without revealing his secret here. He knows that Abby is the only one to be scared of, and he makes the suggestion that these women have clean records, so what’s the point of jumping to conclusions and charging them all? He’s trying to rectify things as best as possible while at the same time, looking out for himself. Here in the play, Abigail’s involvement with witchcraft prompts a fear of “the other” for the acts so far. Abigail is characterized as a scheming, jealous child who wants nothing more then getting her way. She asked Tituba to conjure spirits in order to kill Elizabeth Proctor, so she can have John Proctor all to herself, since they had an affair when she was employed there. The entire “witchcraft” mess is due to the jealousy and desire for revenge from a child. Reverends and anyone who could possibly be of aid for this confusing time period has been brought to Salem in order to thwart the doings of “the others,” or those rumored to be involved in witchcraft, like Goody Nurse fo the “murder of the Putnam’s babies,” or Elizabeth Proctor, because Mary Warren made her a “poppet” and stuck the needle inside for safety.
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Also, this fear of the other has turned Mary Warren and Abigail against each other. Mary Warren falls victim to her fear of getting into trouble and said that Abby would “charge lechery on [Proctor],” which makes things a lot more complicated for Mary. All of the girls (Abby, Mercy, and Mary) made a pact, so to speak, that they’d all tell the exact same story to keep everyone from getting in trouble. So, when Mary breaks the pact, Abigail paints the picture when they’re in court to make it seem as if Mary is a witch, saying “A wind, a cold wind, has come. (her eyes fall on Mary Warren).” All of this drama and chaos takes place due to a child’s jealousy, and the easy solution is for Abigail to just confess, and end the entire town’s suffering. Here in the play, Elizabeth and John are at a crossroads. John confessed his wrongdoings to the court, but Elizabeth does not know this. She is characterized as a kind, honest and basically a lovely woman with a husband desperate to get her back. She enters the courtroom, and immediately tries to glance at John, hoping for some sort of cue as to what she should and shouldn’t say. But Danforth “reaches out and holds her face” and says “Look at me!” So she makes the decision to defend her husband, even though she’s angry at him. Although this situation places Elizabeth in jail, it helps to reaffirm the love that was almost lost between John and Elizabeth. Without any knowledge of what happened and without any cues from her husband, she made the decision to protect John, even though he did the unforgivable. This moment helps to reinforce that yes, he messed up. But, yes, Elizabeth still loves him.