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Proctor's conscience reflects a secular Puritanism as rigid as Danforth's; it is...

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heyitsannefrank | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:09 AM via web

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Proctor's conscience reflects a secular Puritanism as rigid as Danforth's; it is self-righteous. How?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:57 AM (Answer #1)

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Proctor is every bit as concerned as Danforth with right conduct, not least in himself. He is obsessed with his own sin in having committed adultery and he feels he can never get past it. Similarly, at the end, he balks at telling a lie to save his own life, even when urged to do so by others. He does not want to soil his image any further. He feels himself to be essentially a good upstanding man, except for the one sin of adultery, and by the end he feels he has redeemed himself somewhat by deciding to sacrifice his life.

He is also quite quick to point to faults in others, for example Parris' greed and selfishness, and he ends up totally condemning Abigail without ever really considering the fact that she has actually quite good grounds for feeling wronged by him.

Rebecca Nurse appears throughout the play as calm, self-assured, a good wife and mother. In this way she stands for social order and as such she becomes the target of envy from others in the community as she has had a good and successful life. She is also  shown to be wise in her dealings with others, always being calm and moderate and trying to be helpful. She is particularly good with dealing with children; when most of the others jump to the conclusion that Betty's affliction is due to witchcraft, she points out that children sometimes do behave oddly.

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