Examine the relationship dynamic that John Proctor had with Abigail and Elizabeth.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The triangle between the three characters reflect the difference between that which is temporal and that which is transcendental.  For Proctor, his affair with Abigail is a plunge into the temporal.  The momentary satisfaction of the flesh is something that Proctor willingly admits is something that he engaged in out of weakness.  He succumbed to her, entering into adultery, in a moment of personal failure.  Proctor understands from this that his relationship with Elizabeth is a representation of the transcendental, or that which is real and existing beyond the contingency of what was with Abigail.  Like all that is transcendental, Proctor understands how much of a challenge it is to be committed to this.  It is here where Proctor exists in the relationship dynamic between the two women.  Abby is more of a momentary plunge into that which is not lasting and Proctor's difficulties with Elizabeth and the challenges there reflect that which is more transcendent.  It is for this reason that Proctor's "goodness" is only able to be achieved while he strives to be a better husband for Elizabeth.  Abigail ends up leaving Salem and living a life where contingency and temporality reign supreme.  In this, Proctor's relationship dynamic between both women is a reflection of the struggle between recognizing that which is not real and superficial and that which is substantive and more worthwhile and lasting.