In "The Crucible" what is the point of the discussion between Hale and the Proctors about whether or not they believe in witches?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conversation that Hale has with John and Elizabeth Proctor about their belief (or lack thereof) in witches serves several purposes.  The first purpose it serves is to reveal some action that has been occurring offstage; Hale mentions that according to rumors, John doesn't believe in witchcraft.  This lets us, as the readers, know that offstage, people are talking about John, casting suspicion on him, and discussing his intentions and beliefs.  This is significant; people that are "discussed" in this town end up getting accused.  So, we are alerted to the fact that John could be in trouble.

The second purpose of the conversation is to show Elizabeth's beliefs, her reasoning and logic, and her fierce negativity towards Abby and others.  When questioned, she vehemently denies that there could be witches when people strive to live a good life as she has.  She doesn't believe that "the devil can own a woman's soul" if that woman lives righteously.  She says that if Hale thinks she's a witch, then she doesn't believe in witches.  That reveals her rather pragmatic and unconventional attitude about witchcraft.  When questioned further, she bursts out angrily, "Question Abigail Williams about the Gospel, not myself."  This shows how bitter and angry she is about Abby getting away as being a "saint."  She clearly loses control and is frustrated that all of the doubting is being directed at the wrong people.

I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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The Crucible

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