The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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According to John Proctor, what is "walking Salem" and writing the law in the community?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In act two, Ezekiel Cheever arrives at John Proctor's home with a warrant for his wife's arrest. Proctor is astonished that his wife has been accused of attempting to murder Abigail Williams and he ends up tearing the warrant. After Proctor demands that Cheever immediately leave his home, he says,

"I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem—vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrant’s vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to vengeance" (Miller, 77).

John Proctor is aware that Abigail Williams wishes to eliminate his wife in order to be with him and recognizes that vengeance is fueling the hysteria throughout the community. Elizabeth Proctor, Martha Corey, and Rebecca Nurse have all been falsely accused of witchcraft by various people seeking revenge. John Proctor is completely beside himself once his wife is arrested and has no choice but to travel to Salem, where he attempts to undermine the corrupt court by forcing Mary Warren to expose the girls as frauds.

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bcsaund eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, John Proctor says that vengeance is walking Salem and common vengeance writes the law. He understands, rightfully so, that people are using the witchcraft trials to carry out their personal vengeance on other community members. The genuine fear of witchcraft has created a blinding hysteria in Salem and people are not using common sense. They are not able to see what is truly happening. His wife, Elizabeth, is falling victim to the vengeance of his former lover, Abigail. He is becoming increasingly frustrated with the entire situation.  

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