How would you write a conclusion on how the relationship of John and Elizabeth changes throughout the play?
John and Elizabeth Proctor's relationship evolves back into a respectful and loving marriage. At the start of the play, the marriage is a mix of anger and tension. John's infidelity has caused Elizabeth to be suspicious and unforgiving. John walks on eggshells in the hopes of keeping the peace, as seen in Act II, when he seasons the stew furtively so as not to hurt or anger her. At this stage of the play, the tension often gives way to arguments that center on Abigail. Elizabeth is angry and unforgiving for his affair, and John is equally angry that she will not move past it for the good of their family.
When the hysteria reaches their family, the past is let go. John and Elizabeth focus on each other, and both make desperate attempts to save each other. They come to the realization that each had a part in the breakdown of their marriage. John's decision to regain his name and integrity is eventually honored and respected by his wife, even though it means John will die. At the end of the play, they have made peace with the past and forgiven each other.
John and Elizabeth have a deeply damaged relationship to start. The reader becomes aware of the infidelity that Elizabeth is slowly working to forgive. Miller gives small thinly guised hints to the tone of the marriage. “It is winter in here yet.” The relationship attempts to work towards resolution however the marriage is typical of the problem of Salem as a whole. There is no mechanism for forgiveness once sin is exposed. It is theologically impossible to accept one who is marred with any imperfection. The town purges and sacrifices its own as a method to weed out the impure. This is impossible in a marriage where such a transgression has occurred. John learns to accept himself only after Elizabeth accepts him. This is the strongest and most real moment of the marriage. The acknowledgement that they are imperfect coupled with the willful acceptance of the other. The citizens of Salem cover their own faults by accusing and exposing others. The Proctors share the only honest moment in the play.