The Crucible: Act Notes – Act 2
· The act begins in the Proctor household, where we see the awkwardness and disconnection in John and Elizabeth Proctor’s relationship. We initially see them arguing about the fact that Proctor was alone in a room with Abigail (which was significant due to the history of romance which Abigail and John Proctor have).
Mary Warren returns from court and gives
· Hale visits the Proctors as he wants to speak to each person accused. He questions John Proctor’s lack of commitment to the church and becomes increasingly suspicious of John Proctor. Proctor assures him that the household is not satanic, and proves it by reciting the commandments, which he does with much difficulty.
John Proctor challenges the word of the court and attempts
Cheever arrives at the Proctor household arrest
· In this anger, Proctor tears the arrest warrant which symbolizes his determination to fight against the court and bring order back to the court. He challenges Hale in anger making Hale less certain of the case and makes his involvement in this case official.
Motifs & Connotations:
Books and Paper
A significant event regarding books and paper was when Proctor ‘rips the warrant’ despite Cheever ordering Proctor that he ‘dare not touch the warrant’. This is significant because it highlights Proctor as a hero within the play, due to the fact that through this he is seen to challenge the absurd behaviour of his society. Cheever’s reaction of outrage (highlighted by the exclamation mark), as well as the phrase ‘the Deputy Governor’s warrant’ indicate the extent to which Proctor has acted unacceptably. Additionally, the warrants are seen to be the epitome of society’s expectations and Proctor’s actions foreshadow his coming conflict with the court.
In addition to the ripping of the warrant, Proctors reaction to the
event when he says ‘…This warrant’s vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to
vengeance!’ suggests how Miller effectively undermines both the
Clothing and Nudity
only what we always were, but naked now. Aye, naked! And the wind, God’s icy
wind, will blow!” This quotation suggests that there have been lies and secrets
Hot and Cold/Weather
of the play taking place in the ‘winter’ is significant as it emphasizes the
tension and lack of communication in the Proctors relationship. As the act
takes place indoors and in a gloomy time is indicative of how dysfunctional
their relationship is. This is further emphasized by the quotation that
‘[laughing bitterly] Oh,
‘Believe me, Mr. Nurse, if Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothing’s left to stop the whole green world from burning.’ Rebecca Nurse has been taken to court, and here, Hale is reassuring Mr. Nurse that he believes Rebecca is a good woman. Here, burning (fire/heat) is associated with defeat and the fact that it is the ‘whole world’ that will burn suggests the magnitude of the error that the court has committed by arresting Rebecca Nurse.
‘And the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow!’ The ‘icy wind’ is associated with God and it suggests that God’s judgment will be merciless and cut through all pretence to the core truth, much like an icy wind would do. There is a sense, however, that Proctor welcomes this judgment as he himself is unable to accept the fact of his own infidelity and it seems he almost wishes for a chance to embrace his own destruction as he cannot bear to carry on living the lie of his honourable life.
“Think on cause, man [Proctor], and let you help me to discover it. For there’s your way, believe it, there is your only way, when such confusion strikes upon the world” – Hale. Hale recognises Proctor’s individuality and knows that this man can help him work his way through all the chaos in society in order to find the cause. Miller may be trying to point out how the 1950s American society needs an individual like this to help put an end to the madness of McCarthy’s Witch Hunt.
This act is most significant for John Proctor as it develops his role as the hero of the play. The act is used to concentrate Proctors character as an individual who will challenge the society. This idea becomes clear when Proctor’s rage increases and he starts ‘ripping the warrant’. Even after the warrant has been ripped he commands Cheever, a person who is of a higher status in society, to leave his house evidenced when he shouts ‘out with you!’ Essentially this act creates the beastly and determined character that Proctor represents and demonstrates the beginning of the conflict which is to occur in the court which Proctor attempts to reform.
Hale is used in this act interestingly. We immediately see a Hale as a ‘different’ person. He is decribed as ‘drawn a little and there is a quality of deference, even of guilt about his manner now.’ This is significant because it is the first time we see some levels of sanity and level-headedness amongst the superior members of society. His role in this scene is also significant because it possibly foreshadows Hales character change in act 4, where he seems to change completely.
time we see
Warren is significant in this scene because it seems as though she is a tool
used by Miller to explore the absurdity of the society during this time. She
returns from court more confident and claims that she will ‘not stand whipping
any more’ because she is ‘an official of the court’ which clearly demonstrates
the power the court holds, that young girls are able to talk back to their own
boss. In addition to her surge of authority from the court, she seems to
believe the influence of the Devil in
Imagery and Setting
Animal imagery is present where the Devil is described as a
real creature that roams around in the town rather frequently. Mary Warren’s
description of the Devil in the quotation ‘The Devil’s loose in
The image of Proctor tearing the warrant is demonstrates how
Proctor will officially challenge the court of law and take a stand against he
absurdity that affects
The setting is significant in this act. The entire act takes
place in the Proctors household, which seems to be the only house which is
seems comfortable with ‘the field outside’ and a ‘long living room of the
time.’ This is demonstrates how the Proctor household seems nicer than the rest
Relation of Part to Whole
This scene is significant because it prepares us for the climax of the play. The idea of Proctor ‘ripping the warrant’ and raging at the end of the act is significant because it foreshadows Proctors attempt to challenge the authority of the court and try to reform the town’s absurd ideologies. His anger makes it official that he will be the figurehead the small group of people in the town who see the absurdity of the conservative and religious nature of the town. It is interesting to note that the most significant characters of the play who somewhat assist Proctor in his mission to create a more sensible court of law are all present in the room in this act.
It is also a significant act as for the first time we see a clear power struggle between two groups in the society. Even Hale seems as though ‘He is different now-drawn a little, and there is a quality of deference, even of guilt, about his manner now.’ This is significant because in the household of the Proctors, the realism and shrewdness to the events unfolding is strong which not only emphasize the idea of the two groups in the society, but also emphasizes how Proctor can be successful, because Hale himself changes due to his presence in the Proctor household.