How does the extract reveal gender conflict in the world of the play "The Crucible"? ACT III

Expert Answers
sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this act, we see Proctor trying to convince the court that the girls, particularly Abigail, have been lying.  While the play is more about the internal politics of the town, Miller is careful to treat gender relationships with historical perspective.  Women in this time have no rights.  They are at the mercy of their fathers, uncles, and husbands.  If Parris wanted to toss Abigail out, he could.  If Proctor wanted to have an affair with Abigail, he could do so.  He will create problems for himself with his family and with the town, but he will not be destroyed by it.  Abigail, however, will be.  Reputation is all a woman has.  And when the woman's reputation is tarnished, so is her family's. 

These gender truths of colonial Salem are what drive much of the conflict in the play.  In order to save their reputations, the girls concoct the accusations.  When they realize that they have power, the girls run with the accusations, taking a chance they don't normally have to control other people as they are so often controlled.  Parris, not wanting to be tainted if his niece is found to be dishonest, works to protect the girls' story.