Essential Passages by Character: John Proctor
Essential Passage 1: Act 1
Proctor, gently pressing her from him, with great sympathy but firmly: Child—
Abigail, with a flash of anger: How do you call me child!
Proctor: Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby.
Abigail: Aye, but we did.
Proctor: Aye, but we did not.
Abigail, with a bitter anger: Oh, I marvel how such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be—
Proctor, angered—at himself as well: You’ll speak nothin’ of Elizabeth!
John Proctor and Abigail Williams meet, several months after their brief affair ended with Abigail’s expulsion from the Proctor home. Abigail begins to remind John of the passion they once had, hoping to spark a similar confession from him. He puts her off, but eventually admits that he while he has thought of her fondly on occasion, he has no intention of rekindling their relationship. In exasperation, John calls her, “Child.” Abigail lashes out, resenting his attempt to put their relationship back into the role of adult and child. With a calm firmness, John tells Abigail plainly that, despite thinking of her “fondly” on occasion, their relationship is over forever. They are to go on, pretending it never happened. In a moment of contempt, Abigail begins to make disparaging remarks about her rival, Elizabeth, John's wife, the woman she hoped would die when she cast spells in the woods. John is furious. He warns his former mistress against speaking against the woman they both wronged.
Essential Passage 2: Act 1
Parris—now he’s out with it: There is a party in this church. I am not blind; there is a faction and a party.
Proctor: Against you?
Putnam: Against him and all authority!
Proctor: Why, then I must find it and join it.
There is shock among the others.
Rebecca: He does not mean that.
Putnam: He confessed it now!
Proctor: I mean it solemnly, Rebecca; I like not the smell of this “authority.”
(The entire section is 1422 words.)
Essential Passages by Theme: Reputation
Essential Passage 1: Act 1
Parris: Mr. Corey, you will look far for a man of my kind at sixty pound a year! I am not used to this poverty; I left a thrifty business in the Barbados to serve the Lord. I do not fathom it, why am I persecuted here? I cannot offer one proposition but there be a howling riot of argument. I have often wondered if the Devil be in it somewhere; I cannot understand you people otherwise.
Proctor: Mr. Parris, you are the first minister ever did demand the deed to this house—
Parris: Man! Don’t a minister deserve a house to live in?
Proctor: To live in, yes. But to ask ownership is like you shall own the meeting house itself; the last meeting I were at you spoke so long on deeds and mortgages I thought it were an auction.
Parris: I want a mark of confidence, is all! I am your third preacher in seven years. I do not wish to put out like the cat whenever some majority feels the whim. You people seem not to comprehend that a minister is the Lord’s man in the parish; a minister is not to be so lightly crossed and contradicted—
Parris: There is either obedience or the church will burn like Hell is burning!
Parris, as the pastor of the only church in Salem, is insecure in his position. His concern with Betty’s illness is not for her safety but his own reputation if there is a charge of witchcraft brought against someone of his own house. This has shifted the argument from witchcraft to his role as pastor. Proctor has been accused of being lax in his church attendance. It is because, he says, of Parris and his method of preaching. Defensively, Parris complains that he is not provided for by the community. His demand for ownership of the parsonage is a method to gain security that he knows his reputation will not provide. As the minister, he demands respect and the signs that accompany that respect. He is “the Lord’s man,” and thus deserves more than he is getting. He threatens eternal damnation if he is not obeyed and respected.
Essential Passage 2: Act 4
Danforth, conciliatory: You misunderstand, sir; I cannot pardon these when twelve are already hanged for the same crime. It is not just.
(The entire section is 1651 words.)