The Crucible Essential Quotes by Character: John Proctor
by Arthur Miller

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Essential Quotes by Character: John Proctor

Essential Passage 1: Act 1

Proctor, gently pressing her from him, with great sympathy but firmly: Child—

Abigail, with a flash of anger: How do you call me child!

Proctor: Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby.

Abigail: Aye, but we did.

Proctor: Aye, but we did not.

Abigail, with a bitter anger: Oh, I marvel how such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be—

Proctor, angered—at himself as well: You’ll speak nothin’ of Elizabeth!

John Proctor and Abigail Williams meet, several months after their brief affair ended with Abigail’s expulsion from the Proctor home. Abigail begins to remind John of the passion they once had, hoping to spark a similar confession from him. He puts her off, but eventually admits that he while he has thought of her fondly on occasion, he has no intention of rekindling their relationship. In exasperation, John calls her, “Child.” Abigail lashes out, resenting his attempt to put their relationship back into the role of adult and child. With a calm firmness, John tells Abigail plainly that, despite thinking of her “fondly” on occasion, their relationship is over forever. They are to go on, pretending it never happened. In a moment of contempt, Abigail begins to make disparaging remarks about her rival, Elizabeth, John's wife, the woman she hoped would die when she cast spells in the woods. John is furious.  He warns his former mistress against speaking against the woman they both wronged.

Essential Passage 2: Act 1

Parris—now he’s out with it: There is a party in this church. I am not blind; there is a faction and a party.

Proctor: Against you?

Putnam: Against him and all authority!

Proctor: Why, then I must find it and join it.

There is shock among the others.

Rebecca: He does not mean that.

Putnam: He confessed it now!

Proctor: I mean it solemnly, Rebecca; I like not the smell of this “authority.”

The residents of Salem have begun to position themselves along the battle lines: Parris and Putnam together against John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, and Giles Corey, among others. Civic and religious leaders Parris and Putnam accuse John of being lax in his spiritual practices, such as regular church attendance. John, however, resents their legalism displayed as power.  John has not attended church, he says, because he does not like the focus of hell and damnation as opposed to instruction from God that Parris pushes. Parris resents the implication that he is not an adequate pastor and thus accuses John of resisting authority. John admits it; if the control of Parris is “authority,” then he is indeed against it. Rebecca, fearing the power that she knows Parris has to make life miserable, tries to put a different spin on John’s remark, but John stands by it. He will not be cowed by Parris, a man he despises.

Essential Passage 3: Act 3

Danforth: I will have nothing from you, Mr. Hale! To Proctor: Will you confess yourself befouled with Hell, or do you keep that black allegiance yet? What say you?

Proctor, his mind wild, breathless: I say—I say—God is dead!

Parris: Hear it, hear it!

Proctor: laughs insanely, then: A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud—God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!

At the trial, Judge Danforth and Parris are pushing John Proctor to confess that he himself is in league with Satan. Mr. Hale, acting as the voice of reason, tries to interfere, but Danforth is on the warpath. Proctor, at last able to stand no more, proclaims that God is dead. At last Parris has want he has wants. Proctor has damned himself beyond just a confession of being in league with Satan. He has revealed, Parris...

(The entire section is 1,422 words.)