by Arthur Miller
The Crucible Act I Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
(Act.Line) Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
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!
ABIGAIL: She is blackening my name in the village! She is telling lies about me! She is a cold, sniveling woman, and you bend to her! Let her turn you like a—
PROCTOR, shaking her: Do you look for whippin'? (I.202-205)
Though Abigail pretends she’s angry at Elizabeth Proctor for damaging her reputation, the more powerful emotion is envy of Elizabeth for her marriage to John Proctor. Here she resorts to petty name-calling in order to cast doubt in John’s mind.
PROCTOR: Can you speak one minute without we land in Hell again? I am sick of Hell!
PARRIS: It is not for you to say what is good for you to hear!
PROCTOR: I may speak my heart, I think!
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. "
REBECCA: No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another kind, John. Clasp his hand, make your peace.
PROCTOR: I have a crop to sow and lumber to drag home. (I.275-277; 278-289)
Parris tries to assert his religious authority over Proctor, but Proctor is uninterested in the minister’s message. Parris suggests that there is a battle going on, a battle of good vs. evil, and Proctor is on the wrong side.
The Salem tragedy… developed from a paradox… Simply, it was this: for good purposes, even high purposes, the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies. It was forged for a necessary purpose and accomplished that purpose. But all organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition, just as two objects cannot occupy the same space… The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom. (I.15)
As part of the initial setting, the narrator explains how a theocracy—which is based on the principle that some people should be included and some excluded from society because of their religious beliefs and actions—would lead to a tragedy like the Salem witch-hunts. This is basically the idea that religious fervor, taken to extremes, results in tragedy.