In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, Elizabeth Proctor says, "There be a certain danger in calling such names - I am no Goody Good that sleeps in ditches, nor Osburn, drunk and half-witted. She'd dare not call out such a farmer's wife but there be monstrous profit in it."
What does she mean?
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Elizabeth says this on conversing with her husband, John. They had just been told by Mary Warren, their maid, that she had saved Elizabeth's wife by refusing to implicate her as a witch. When they wanted to know who it was that accused her, Mary refuses to say, mentioning that:
I am bound by law, I cannot tell it.
Elizabeth suspects that Abigail Williams, their previous maid, was her accuser. Elizabeth had banished Abigail from their house when she discovered that John was having an adulterous affair with her.
By saying that 'there be a certain danger in calling such names', she means that there is a definite risk when someone should accuse a person such as her. She also implies that the person who had done that, surely intends to create trouble for the person whom she so accuses. Elizabeth furthermore compares herself to Goody Good and Sarah Osburn, women who were vagrants and reviled by the townsfolk. She has a good name in the town and is respected by all, other than these two, who had become easy targets since they did not have any stature.
Elizabeth states that Abigail would not have dared accuse her unless she could profit from such an accusation. The word 'monstrous' suggests how despicable and disgusting it is for someone to wish to profit by purposely making such terrible false accusations, since the punishment for those accused was extremely harsh and could result in execution.
Prior to this, Elizabeth had already mentioned that Abigail wanted her dead and out of the way. She later affirms this by saying that Abigail wishes to take her place. If she should be found guilty of witchcraft and hanged, Abigail would then have the opportunity to reunite with John.
Elizabeth's suspicion is later proven to be accurate. She is arrested on charges of witchcraft when Ezekiel Cheever (an officer of the court) finds evidence planted by Abigail (unwittingly assisted by Mary) in their household in the form of a doll.
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