How would you describe the relationship between John and his wife; between him and Abigail? How does it contribute to what happened in Salem.

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jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor is very strained at the beginning of the play because of John's recent infidelity with Abigail.  John complains that he has "gone tiptoe" around Elizabeth for seven months now and she has not even begun to forgive him for his actions.  At the same time, John feels a terrible guilt for what he has done.  At the beginning of the play, Elizabeth blames John for all of the problems in her marriage, but she realizes by the end of the play, that she also has a responsibility for the problems in their marriage.  Her love for her husband and her refusal to confess his sin of adultery to the court actually casts doubt on John's accusations against Abigail.

John's relationship with Abigail is a major contributor to the problems in Salem.  Abigail still wants John Proctor but she also feels used by him.  She is an orphan who has no family and noone she is close to.  She turned to John Proctor to satisfy her need for human contact, but the sexual nature of her need has pushed him away.  Proctor's guillt about his relationship with her cannot allow him to have any relationship with her.  Her anger at Proctor and her anger at his wife cause Abigail to continue her accusations against people in the town.  Abigail enjoys the power the accusations give her and she thinks that if Elizabeth is gone, she can get John.  She is wrong, but she does not see that.