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What are Elizabeth and John Proctor's motivations throughout The Crucible? 

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allfloaton | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM via web

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What are Elizabeth and John Proctor's motivations throughout The Crucible

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM (Answer #1)

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Elizabeth's motivation changes over the course of the play. At first, as a reaction to her jealousy for John being seduced by Abigail, Elizabeth's motivation is to make him feel terribly guilty for what he has done. But as the play proceeds and she is accused, her motivation is  just to get to be with him. In fact, against her Puritan faith, she lies in court about John's lechery, thinking that he would have lied. She lied to save his reputation. As the play just about closes her motivation becomes to see John feel free. He struggled with whether to sign a false confession or not. 

John's motivation remains fairly constant: to find falsehood and expose it. John Proctor is one of the most forward and blunt characters ever written. With his wife, as she tried to make him feel guilt, he made sure she understood her cold nature may have prompted his cheating. With the court, he sacrificed his own reputation to point out the falsehood of the accusations that Abigail was making. Furthermore, he used the truth of the Putnam's situation to prove why they may have encouraged the girls to pretend. By the end, he refuses to save his own life with a simple lie. He would die to demonstrate the truth. 

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