The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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How does Elizabeth change throughout The Crucible?

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In Act II of The Crucible, Elizabeth still appears to be angry with John over his affair with Abigail seven months earlier. John reproaches her with coldness, saying that she is constantly judging and condemning him, and that her "justice would freeze beer." We should be careful of agreeing with him too completely. It seems that the Proctors have had a difficult and uncommunicative relationship since John's affair and the actress playing Elizabeth will have to decide whether she is a harsh, unforgiving woman (albeit with a legitimate grievance) or someone who finds it hard to talk to her husband in the wake of his betrayal.

In Act III, Elizabeth only appears briefly, but she seems to have abandoned her bitterness and to be doing all she can to save her husband, even to the point of lying, an act of which John said she was incapable. When we see her again in Act IV, she has forgiven John completely, refusing to judge him or even to suggest what he ought to do, merely repeating "Do as you...

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The most notable change seen in Elizabeth Proctor is her view of her husband, John Proctor.


In the beginning of the play it is clear that she blames and hates John for his infidelity with Abigail Williams. Her words and body language shows how cold she is to her husband and John even demands that she stop being this way, since it has now been months since the affair. He hasn't gone into Salem in months, which is where Abigail is, in order to keep Elizabeth happy. As the play progresses, and the hysteria mounts, Elizabeth is accused of being a witch (by, surprise, Abigail). She is not hung immediately because she claims to be pregnant, which over time is seen to be true. The officials will not hang a pregnant woman until she has given birth. In their final Elizabeth admits to John he faults in the matter of their marriage and his affair. This admittance is her greatest change. She acknowledges herself as a "cold wife" and that is was this fact that led John to find warmth elsewhere. She admits to John that she never thought a man like him could love a woman like her, and this led to her coldness.


So, simply, in the beginning Elizabeth blames John completely for their marital problems and in the end she recognizes that she had a part to play in it.