Arthur Miller skillfully uses language to convey John and Elizabeth Proctor's tense, unstable relationship at the beginning of act two. When John walks into the home, he immediately tastes Elizabeth's soup and adds salt to it, which suggests that their relationship is bland and lacks passion. John and his wife proceed to engage in brief small talk, which heightens the tension of the atmosphere. Both characters are careful to not upset each other and prefer to speak about common, uneventful subjects.
When John tastes his meal, he proceeds to lie to Elizabeth by saying, "It’s well seasoned" (50). John's trivial lie indicates that his relationship with Elizabeth is unsteady and he is resorting to minor compliments to appease her. John proceeds to mention that he is thinking about purchasing George Jacob's heifer and tells his wife, "I mean to please you, Elizabeth" (50). Once again, John is obviously attempting to repair his damaged relationship with Elizabeth by gaining her favor.
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