In "The Crucible" is there effective communication between Elizabeth & John when they argue over Abigail?thanks

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Their conversation begins with Elizabeth encouraging her husband to travel to Salem and inform the court officials that the girls testifying are frauds. When John mentions that he has no proof because there were no witnesses in the room while he spoke to Abigail, Elizabeth begins to question his honesty. There is clearly a distance between John Proctor and Elizabeth throughout their discourse concerning Abigail. Elizabeth is still filled with resentment over her husband's affair, and John's guilt is depicted throughout his bitter responses. When Elizabeth tells John to do as he wishes, he responds with anger by asking his wife if she continues to doubt him. John Proctor takes the defensive by saying,

"You will not judge me more, Elizabeth. I have good reason to think before I charge fraud on Abigail, and I will think on it. Let you look to your own improvement before you go to judge your husband anymore." (Miller, 54)

Proctor then begins to criticize his wife for her lack of charity and judgmental attitude. Their relationship is clearly strained. Proctor begs his wife to exercise forgiveness, and Elizabeth responds by questioning John about why he was not initially open with her about being in the room alone with Abigail. Elizabeth then tells John,

"I do not, judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you." (55)

Considering the fact that both characters resent each other for various reasons and that John is not persuaded into travelling to Salem, I would say the couple does not effectively communicate. 

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The communication between John and Elizabeth is charged with resentment, guilt and shame over John's affair with Abigail Williams.

"The tension between John and Elizabeth is thick as they sit down to dinner. While unfailingly polite, their relationship is visibly strained."

"Elizabeth, continues to interrogate and to accuse. Her judgment of her husband lacks mercy and understanding."

Elizabeth wants John to go to the court and tell the officials what Abigail told him about the girls dancing in the woods being innocent, but he does not want to get involved in this way. 

John resents the authority of the church, and fears what will happen to his name if the community finds out about his affair with Abigail.  Elizabeth wants him to tell the truth and be moral.  

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No. At least, there is not effective, clear, and direct communication. The two know each other well, and can communicate a lot in a few brief exchanges. There's a lot of emotion flying back and forth in this argument. However, they aren't good at communicating directly. There are several reasons for this. The simplest is lack of skill, but the most important reason is that the subject is tied up with matters of such importance for them. John's desire for Abigail is sinful in their world, and Abigail's influence over him suspect.

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The Crucible

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