What is Goody Elizabeth's purpose in The Crucible?

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The second act of this play introduces us to the Proctor household and the troubles that the Proctor marriage faces. If you analyse the opening pages of Act II, Miller uses various stage techniques and dialogue to present us with these problems, ranging from the way that Proctor in the stage directions tastes the food that Elizabeth has prepared for him and is "not quite pleased" before adding salt himself in secret and then going on to compliment Elizabeth on the food to an outright condemnation of her sense of "justice," as in when Proctor says:

Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer!

The purpose of the character of Elizabeth Proctor is therefore to present the very complicated dynamic of John Proctor in a different light. He is a man who is desperate to be a good person and we can see the great effort he puts in to being a good husband in the following quote:

I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven month since she is gone. I have not moved from there to there without I think to please you, and still an everlasting funeral marches round your heart. I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house!

There is of course tremendous irony in this speech, as John Proctor will very shortly find himself in front of a real court where he will have to protest his innocence. 

Elizabeth then becomes the focus of the conflict that draws Proctor in to opposing Abigail. It is only when his wife is taken away that Proctor begins to seriously consider challenging what is happening with the girls. To be a good man and to fight for his name necessarily means fighting for his wife. She represents the stakes that Proctor fights for. 


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The Crucible

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