‘Analyse and discuss the way in which Arthur Miller presents the relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor, focussing on the dramatic change from Act two to Act four’ ‘The Crucible’ known as some what an energetic and thrilling play was written around the act of the Salem witch trials which occurred in 1692 and later written in a play format by Arthur Miller in 1953. Using this play Miller himself intended to shock the audience not only with varieties of events that occur throughout the play but also the deep purposeful relationships between Elizabeth Proctor and her husband John. Over time in the play the reader is somewhat touched by their sanity and there discovery of a sensitive and sticky awkwardness between the couple, which is followed by the audience throughout the play till the very end where the relationship itself is forever changing.
The main plot of this play is based entirely around the individual and extreme views on witchcraft and how it can take over people’s minds, yet still the relationship of both John and Elizabeth proctor is still present during the incident of witchery, but in an ever changing way, especially between the Acts two and four. Miller felt it was important to write this play to show the public just how ridiculous it was when people feel the need to blame others for society’s own problems rather than accepting the fall themselves. This is shown especially well throughout the play.
The town itself ‘Salem’ is filled with people, who are very judgemental and live in an extremely upright society, were religion and rules play a big part in there lives and to break any face having to suffer huge consequences. The chaos itself begins in the middle of a nearby wood were many maids and children are caught by Reverend Paris dancing around. This was seen as a major rule break as things like dancing, singing or even reading were never permitted in Salem.
In stead of owning up to this mistake, and preventing themselves to even more trouble one of the girls, Betty one of the girls caught dancing, pretended to be possessed by the Devil and got out of any form of punishment due to the fact Reverend Paris ‘tricked’ her into doing it as it was not her performing witchcraft. The other children all wanted the same and claimed the same thing to get out of a dreaded punishment, but instead made the situation even worse and its starts to get dangerous having to cover up and lie.
Abigail Williams was one of the main girls in the play, whom was also caught dancing in the woods and has supposedly had an affair with John Proctor, who regrets this terribly and cant think of anything else but to get Abigail out of his life forever, but she isn’t having any of it. Her plan to tear apart the existing couple doesn’t go to well and actually brings Elizabeth and john proctor together emotionally and physically and this is shown tremendously throughout the course of the play.
In Act one the audience presume Abigail and John have had an affair, but have not yet met Elizabeth proctor, so there is nothing to be yet known about her. The first mention of her is said by Abigail as she describes her as a ‘sickly wife’. Proctor as hearing this reply quickly in her defence in an angry and distort manner. This shows how John really does care for his wife right at the beginning of the play as he is there to answer for her and stick up for her in a loving and caring way, but it seems he answers like this because he knows he’s the one who’s done the bad deed in the first place so it should be him dealing with such a situation.
When the play itself was written it would have been the men in charge of the women, who were the once who saw to there every need and done everything for them. Although Abigail goes on to say ‘he bends to her’ as if to say she is now in charge of him, this is likely to anger proctor as he is the powerful one, but he knows deep down that he needs to make it up to his wife somehow after all what he has done to her, this shows how he will do anything to show she is the one he wants to love forever.
From Act one we can clearly see the relationship is unstable due to the fact proctor has had an affair with Abigail, but he is certain that even though all that has happened, and the guilt and unhappiness Abigail has put him through Elizabeth is the one for him and he shows that by the commitment of love he is willing to give to her. Miller presents proctors way of thinking throughout act tow, yet Elizabeth still doesn’t seem to accept it, this is were you can start to see that there relationship is nearly broken but is still they know they have to pull through putting a lot of pressure on them both. Not only are they doing this for the children but for there reputations, as rumours fly around, especially when such act of adultery is committed.
The stage directions given near the beginning of act two, is the first situation which the audience are introduced to Elizabeth herself as a real person. She is heard to be ‘singing softly to the children’ showing what a kind, caring and loving kind of person she is when first heard of in the play which is considered the complete opposite to what Abigail describes her as; ‘cold snivelling women’ this shows how jealously really sets in and lines have been twisted through Abigail’s mouth.