In "The Crucible" Act II, what are the possible new character traits of John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor? In addition, is there any textual evidence to support the new traits?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act Two shows us John and Elizabeth Proctor at home, and thus we can assume that they are relatively comfortable and not attempting to conceal anything from one another.  We certainly get a sense of John's bitterness and guilt, something we hadn't seen in Act One, when he raises his voice to his wife, saying, "You forget nothin' and forgive nothin'.  Learn charity, woman."  He is angry at his wife for continuing to hold a grudge against him due to his infidelity with their former servant, Abigail Williams.  Elizabeth does continue to have her suspicions about him.  When John says that he spoke to Abigail alone, his story doesn't match the first one he told her, and she claims, "John, you are not open with me.  You saw her with a crowd you said."  His continuing guilt and resentment due to her continued suspicion of him drive a wedge between them. 

We also learn that the Proctors' are very pious people, though they have a spotty record of attending Sunday services of late.  They know their commandments (excepting that John has trouble with the one), John helped to build the church, and so forth.  Their "soft record" has everything to do with John's dislike of the Reverend Parris, an antagonism we saw in Act One.  Though the Proctors are pious, they are not not perfect, and their failure to believe in witches does make them somewhat unusual for their era.

Finally, we see how much John really does love his wife, and she him, when she is threatened by an accusation from the court.  Suddenly, all of their bad feelings seem to vanish, and their love for one another takes center stage.  Proctor claims that he will "fall like an ocean on that court" in order to save her.  We might have thought that John's feelings for Abigail were being put to the side only because he felt an obligation to his wife (from the conversation between John and Abigail in Act One), but Act Two makes it quite clear that -- even though he may have some feelings remaining for Abigail -- it is his wife that means the most to him.

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The Crucible

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