In The Crucible, do you feel that Miller wishes us to sympathize with Elizabeth Proctor?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, absolutely. It's easy to understand Elizabeth's suspicions concerning John after his affair with Abigail. Her feelings are no doubt rooted in hurt and fear. Our deeper sympathy for Elizabeth, however, begins with her arrest and removal in chains from her home. Her goodbye is heartwrenching. Even as she is taken away, she still tries to care for her family and comfort her children. Elizabeth's world has fallen apart, but she is concerned about having fresh baked bread in the house.

Our sympathy for Elizabeth continues to grow with her trial testimony. Her love for John forces her to betray her own character by lying in court, under oath. She struggles to avoid having to make the choice, but when asked directly about John's lechery, she answers directly. She lies to protect him, only to realize, in anguish, that her lie has damned him.

Elizabeth deserves our deepest sympathy as she languishes in jail, pregnant with a new child and separated from her husband and sons. Only her pregnancy has spared her life momentarily. Even in this pitiful condition, however, Elizabeth's turmoil worsens. She must find the strength to let her husband die in order to preserve his own dignity and integrity. It is her greatest sacrifice, an act of complete unselfishness.

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The Crucible

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