How does Proctor's comment regarding being sensible [on page 37] show a lack of conformity to the general mood regarding unnatural influences?

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

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Early on in the drama, there is a sense of hysteria that grips the town regarding the presence of witches and the devil.  Most people in the town that are featured in the early going are panicked, or find that they benefit from the hysteria.  Proctor demonstrates from an early point in the drama that he is an individual who goes against the grain.  His lack of conformity is evident in how he dismisses what is going on in the town.  When he speaks to Abigail, he refers to Parris' claims as "mischief," something that he feels is representative of the emotional contagion that has a hold of the town.  Proctor is a firm believer in evidence, rational thought, and of causality.  This might be present in his work as a farmer, and the idea that there can be explanations to everything and is seen in his insistence that there must be an evidential approach to determining guilt during the trial.  Proctor's characterization is one whereby there is a sense of the rational and explainable in what defines consciousness.  This does not leave his character and is evident in his initial rejection of the town's fear and intense embrace of that which is panic in the town.

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