The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What is the theme of the conflict in act 2 of The Crucible?

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The conflicts in act 2 are focused within the Proctors' home, so it could be considered domestic conflict. John and Elizabeth argue about John informing the court officials about what Abigail has told him, and their marital discord worsens when Elizabeth learns that John has been alone with Abigail again. Mary Warren, who serves as their domestic helper, comes in and deepens the conflict when she informs them of the gravity of the court proceedings, which at this point have escalated greatly. Hale's questions probe more deeply into their domestic life. His pointed interrogation about the depth of their faith and frequency of their church attendance signal his suspicion. And finally, Ezekiel Cheever's arrival with the warrant for Elizabeth irrevocably alters the domestic sphere of the Proctors. He arrests Elizabeth, and she and John will not live together again with their family.

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In Act Two of The Cruciblethe audience members and readers of the play find themselves in the household of the Proctors. While the first act was an overview of the community and a foreshadowing of the coming tragedy, the second act focuses in on the domestic issues between the Proctors. Miller's tightening of the scope of the play from the community to the Proctors secures the Proctors as central characters in the play. 

In the opening of the act, we understand that Proctor has had an affair with Abigail and there is more suspicion when he is caught in another lie. These lies and suspicions are central to the themes of the act, which include paranoia, jealousy and family.

There is frequent paranoia and jealousy in the second act. Characters covet the things that other characters possess, and they create paranoia in their attempt to possess other characters' belongings. The Putnams want land, Abigail wants Proctor, and Mary Warren might want attention. Furthermore, all of these issues circulate around family structures. 

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