In "The Crucible" what would Elizabeth Proctor write in a letter to her condemned husband John Proctor?The letter should detail her grievances, any blame she might feel or it may express her...

In "The Crucible" what would Elizabeth Proctor write in a letter to her condemned husband John Proctor?

The letter should detail her grievances, any blame she might feel or it may express her beliefs and/or regrets.


Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best source for ideas on this one can be found in the play itself, at the end of Act Four, when Elizabeth and John talk.  In this poignant exchange between the two of them, John expresses a desire for forgiveness for what he has done.  Elizabeth states,

"I have sins of my own to count.  It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery...I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me."

In that vulnerable and touching confession, Elizabeth admits that she had been cold and unkind to her husband, and that certainly didn't help matters.  She was cold and unkind because she was insecure; she thought she was too plain and unlovable to have his affection.  Her own self-loathing drove her to turn from him.

If you look at that conversation as a guide for her letter, it will help a lot.  I would start the letter off with general news of how she is doing in the jail, how her pregnancy is going.  Then, move on to the topic of her feelings that she refers to above:  how she regrets her behavior towards him, how she wishes she had been more kind.  I would also have her express remorse for their lives that are lost, but also, as she does in real conversation in the play, try to offer him support in whatever decision he decides to make.  Elizabeth, in the end of the play, doesn't force her will on him.  Rather, she states,"As you will I would have it," and lets him go to the gallows, because he had chosen to do so.  So, in the letter, I would have her express encouragement to him, coaxing him to trust himself and believe in himself to do the right thing.

I hope that those thoughts help a bit; it's an interesting assignment, and gratefully, the play provides a lot of clues as to what was on her mind during those hard times in prison.  Good luck!

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In such a letter, Elizabeth Proctor might also address the event that turned the tides of the court against John: when she lied in court about her reason for dismissing Abigail Williams from their service. This is information that would have completely discredited Abigail and could possibly have ended the whole debacle of the trials.

We know that Elizabeth fired Abigail because the girl was having an affair with her husband. John told the truth to the court about Abigail despite the damage it might do to his reputation. He promised Deputy Governor Danforth that Elizabeth could not lie and that she would verify his story, so Danforth questioned Elizabeth without allowing her to speak with John first, in order to test her. In fact, he did so in front of John, with John's back turned.

Elizabeth, after what seems like a good deal of agonizing over the matter, does eventually lie to Danforth, telling him that she fired Abigail only because the girl didn't please her; she wants to protect her husband's reputation so badly that she values it over even her own honesty. This lie seems to confirm Danforth's suspicions that John is dishonest (which he is not), and when John tells Elizabeth that he'd told the court the truth, her utterance of "Oh, God!" shows her own pain and regret. I imagine that she would explain to him why she lied this one time when he knew that "In her life . . . she have never lied."  

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The Crucible

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