The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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Identify Proctor's meaning in the following quote:  "I should have roared you down when first you told me your suspicion. But I wilted, and, like a Christian, I confessed. Confessed! Some dream I had must have mistaken you for God that day (55)."

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Proctor begins in a rather self-pitying fashion by regretting his own kindness. He says that he should simply have asserted his authority as a husband in leonine fashion by "roaring down" the suspicions of his wife. He then adds that he "wilted," an interesting contrast of imagery. Instead of roaring like a lion, he wilted like a sick flower, cowering rather than dominating.

This image is reinforced by the repetition of the word "confessed." First, Proctor claims to have confessed "like a Christian." Then he seems to overhear himself and understand the dire implication of what he has just said. A Christian has a duty to confess his sins to God. Puritan theology is built upon the idea of the direct relationship between man and God, so a Puritan must confess directly to God, without an intermediary. To suggest that he confess to a pastor would be a Catholic heresy. How much more blasphemous, then, to confess to his wife. The theological error is compounded by a simple wound to Proctor's...

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