What is the significance of John re-seasoning the soup in Act 2? 

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litlady33 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The re-seasoning of the soup, though a small gesture, can signify many things between the marriage of John and Elizabeth Proctor. In the first act of the play, readers learn through an interaction between John and Abigail Williams that his marriage is trouble. Though they no longer see each other, the audience can tell that they have a past when Abigail says "I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, and I have seen you looking up, burning in your loneliness" (Miller). It is evident from this interaction that they have had a relationship but John has chosen to put an end to it.

When Act II opens and John is re-seasoning the soup, the audience can feel the tension in the marriage. The fact that John needs to add seasoning could signify his dissatisfaction with the marriage. It could also signify his need to rectify his marriage. He wants to be able tell Elizabeth with a straight face that her cooking is decent, as indeed he does. "It's well seasoned," he says. Clearly Elizabeth is convinced because she blushes in response. Though Proctor has to commit a small deception, it is worth it to him to put this piece of his marriage back together.

This small gesture at the beginning of the act says a great deal. It tells the reader that John Proctor is not entirely happy with his wife's cooking, just as he is clearly not entirely happy with his marriage. However, he is trying to make it better by doing what small things he can to please his wife and show her that he is trying to make things work.