Why does Miller portray Proctor in such a defiant way in Act II as he rips up the warrant?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Miller's depiction of Proctor as he rips the warrant is deliberate.  It is the first moment where Miller creates Proctor as being visibly defiant of what is happening at Salem.  From the position of not wanting to be involved and even demonstrating hesitation earlier in the act about speaking out, Proctor now shows himself to be acting in a defiant manner towards what is happening in Salem.  His ripping of the warrant is a statement to this end.  Proctor cannot stand by in neutrality or seeking to evade his own conscience when Elizabeth is taken to jail.  At the same time, he cannot stand by when so little evidence and such faulty reasoning is accepted and judicial fact.  The entire discussion about the poppet and how it came to become evidence was too much for Proctor to bear.  Miller's construction of Proctor's anger and his own need to take a stand comes out in his ripping of the warrant.  It is the first visible moment in which he is able to assert his own voice in the matters of Salem and also represents the first instant in which he is able to define himself against what is happening in Salem.  The ripping of the warrant is the first visible sign that the audience/ reader sees this.


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