In "The Crucible" what is the present state of the Proctors' relationship?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best way to gage the present state of the Proctors' relationship is to look in Act Two.  At the beginning of this act, we see the two of them together at mealtime, and the mood is very strained and awkward.  They struggle to find things to talk about that are pleasant.  We see that John wants to please Elizabeth; he mentions flowers, getting her a cow, and compliments her on her cooking.  Elizabeth tries to reciprocate his efforts by agreeing with him, engaging him in conversation, and serving him dinner.

However, it is soon revealed that even though they are trying to be civil to one another, underneath the surface, things are still festering between them.  The affair that John had with Abigail has caused a major schism in their marriage, and they are still struggling with the contention and anger that this has caused.  When Elizabeth asks him to go to town and tell the people that Abby had told him the girls were faking, an argument breaks out.  Elizabeth shows that she is still suspicious of John's actions in regards to Abby, and John reveals how bitter he is about her cold and unforgiving nature regarding the situation.

They openly fight over Abby and what happened; Elizabeth accuses him of still having feelings for her, and John accuses Elizabeth of being judgmental and cold.  So, act two reveals a couple that has had major conflict in their marriage, and who are trying to make things better, but really having a hard time of it.  The positive side to all of this is that when Elizabeth is arrested at the end of the act, they come together.  John promises to bring her home, and they are able to unite and show affection, briefly, before she is taken away.  So, they still care, they still love one another, it's just been a rough year for them.

I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!