Read between the lines. What is the hidden meaning in the following set of lines? Proctor: It is a whore! Danforth: You charge--? Abigail: Mr. Danforth, he is lying! Proctor: Mark her....

Read between the lines. What is the hidden meaning in the following set of lines?

Proctor: It is a whore!

Danforth: You charge--?

Abigail: Mr. Danforth, he is lying!

Proctor: Mark her. Now she’ll suck a scream to stab me with but—

Danforth: You will prove this! This will not pass!

Proctor: I have known her, sir. I have known her.

 

Expert Answers
kcoleman2016 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To answer this question regarding the subtleties and allusions in Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, let's go line by line!

Proctor: It is a whore!

Note that Proctor dehumanizes Abigail by referring to her as "it," an objectifying and asexual pronoun. This could be read multiple ways: Puritan rejection of sexuality and its associations with sin/evil; Abigail's characterization as inhuman and evil; etc. 

Danforth: You charge--?

Danforth cannot even finish his question here, which indicates a wealth options for the actor's tone. Note the punctuation, which could read as shock, interrogative, anger, disbelief, and more. 

Abigail: Mr. Danforth, he is lying!

In a note of irony here, Abigail claims Proctor is lying, while in reality his statement is one of the few true ones presented in the court. 

Proctor: Mark her. Now she’ll suck a scream to stab me with but—

Miller's strong imagery here makes Abigail's words, and therefore her power, physical. Her screams will, according to John, "stab," presenting real and lasting impact that supports the real, lasting impact Abigail's words have had in the court preceding this point. 

Danforth: You will prove this! This will not pass!

Abigail's power is endangered when Danforth entertains this as a reality. This is a tangible shift, and a dangerous one for her. 

Proctor: I have known her, sir. I have known her.

Biblically, "known" means to have sexual relationships with another person. 

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

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