In The Crucible who says the witchcraft trials are "a black mischief"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In act 2, John Proctor returns home and asks why Elizabeth allowed Mary Warren to travel to Salem. Elizabeth proceeds to explain how Mary began to act aggressive and confidently left their home to attend the court proceedings in town. Elizabeth then tells John that it is a "proper court"...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In act 2, John Proctor returns home and asks why Elizabeth allowed Mary Warren to travel to Salem. Elizabeth proceeds to explain how Mary began to act aggressive and confidently left their home to attend the court proceedings in town. Elizabeth then tells John that it is a "proper court" in Salem and mentions that fourteen citizens have already been arrested and accused of witchcraft. This news startles John, who then comments that the court would never hang any of the accused citizens. Elizabeth goes on to say that the citizens hold Abigail in high regard and elaborates on the spectacle of the witch trials, where the girls act like spirits are attacking them. John Proctor then says, "Oh, it is a black mischief" (Miller, 53). Proctor is aware that Abigail and her followers are lying, which is why he refers to their accusations and hysterical actions in court as "black mischief."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

These words are spoken by John Proctor; ironically, too, he uses a term for witchcraft and places it upon the very people who are accusing others of the
black arts." And, yet, these trials are truly "black mischief" in the sense that they are based upon falsehoods.

This line taken from Act II is part of the dialogue between John and Elizabeth Proctor. Elizabeth tells John that their servant Mary Warren has gone to Salem because she is "an official of the court." Astonished, Proctor asks his wife "What court?" Elizabeth replies that there are fourteen in the jail, and the Deputy Governor promises to hang anyone who does not confess to consorting with the devil when the others have been bewitched by them, having fallen to the floor.

In his attempt to scoff at the lies that have been told, and facts that have been distorted and exaggerated, John Proctor cries out, "Oh, it is a black mischief!" but he is worried about Abigail and the extent to which she will go to create hysteria.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team