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How does Arthur Miller present the emotions of John Proctor in these two extracts from...

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user20008 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 24, 2013 at 6:01 PM via web

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How does Arthur Miller present the emotions of John Proctor in these two extracts from The Crucible?

Act 1 - scene with Abigail and John Proctor

Act 2 - beginning scene with Elizabeth and John Proctor 

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted July 10, 2013 at 10:40 AM (Answer #1)

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In these two extracts, we find Proctor in an awkward situation. In the first case, he is alone with the girl he had an affair with, in the second case he is with his wife, who now mistrusts him.

In the first extract, Proctor actually appears initially quite at ease with Abigail. We know this as he is wearing a slight smile and joking with her a bit. But his mood swiftly changes when, it is said, 'her concentrated desire destroys his smile'. When he realises she still depends on him, his attitude becomes constrained as he tries to dissuade her. We see how he does this by calling her 'child' and putting her away from him when she tries to embrace him. She is devastated but soon her grief turns to a desire for revenge - particularly against Elizabeth Proctor whom she believes has turned John against her.

We see in this extract that Proctor still has feelings for Abigail but that he is resolved to put their affair behind him. When she is not willing to do the same, he becomes tense and awkward with her.

In the second extract, again, there is a sense of awkwardness. Elizabeth is evidently still smarting from a sense of betrayal by her husband. This makes their conversation very difficult as they try to talk of neutral things. We see that Proctor is the one who tries to keep the conversation going, as he is clearly trying to make amends for his past behaviour, although in the end he has to admit it is futile, as Elizabeth will not let go of her grievances.

I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven month since (Abigail) is gone. I have not moved from there to there without I think to please you, and still an everlasting funeral marches round your heart. 

Proctor says, then, that he has done everything in his power to make up with Elizabeth, that he doesn't do anything without thinking of her first, but still she continues to accuse him. We see therefore that, having broken off his relationship with Abigail, he is now trying to repair his relationship with Elizabeth, but finds it hard going.

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