by Arthur Miller
The Crucible Act II 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.
ELIZABETH: It is a mouse no more. I forbid her [Mary] go, and she raises up her chin like the daughter of a prince and says to me, "I must go to Salem, Goody Proctor; I am an official of the court!"
PROCTOR: Court! What court?
ELIZABETH: Aye, it is a proper court they have now. They've sent four judges out of Boston, she says, weighty magistrates of the General Court, and at the head sits the Deputy Governor of the Province.
PROCTOR, astonished: Why, she's mad.
ELIZABETH: I would to God she were. There be fourteen people in the jail now, she says. (Proctor simply looks at her, unable to grasp it.) And they'll be tried, and the court have power to hang them too, she says.
PROCTOR, scoffing, but without conviction: Ah, they'd never hang—
ELIZABETH: They'll hang if they'll not confess, John. The town's gone wild, I think. She speak of Abigail, and I thought she were a saint, to hear her. Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. And folks are brought before them, and if they scream and howl and fall to the floor—the person's clapped in the jail for bewitchin' them.
PROCTOR, wide-eyed: Oh, it is a black mischief.
ELIZABETH: I think you must go to Salem, John. (He turns to her.) I think so. You must tell them it is a fraud. (II.46-54)
Justice in the witchcraft trials means confessing or dying—so even if you’re not guilty, you must confess to avoid death. But both Elizabeth and Proctor know it’s a fraud because of their earlier association with Abigail.
PROCTOR, with solemn warning: You will not judge me more, Elizabeth. I have good reason to think before I charge fraud on Abigail, and I will think on it. Let you look to your own improvement before you go to judge your husband any more. I have forgot Abigail, and—
ELIZABETH: And I.
PROCTOR: Spare me! You forget nothin' and forgive nothin'. Learn charity, woman. I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven month since she is gone. I have not moved from there to there without I think to please you, and still an everlasting funeral marches round your heart. I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house!
ELIZABETH: John, you are not open with me. You saw her with a crowd, you said. Now you—
PROCTOR: I'll plead my honesty no more, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH, now she would justify herself: John, I am only—
PROCTOR: No more! I should have roared you down when first you told me your suspicion. But I wilted, and, like a Christian, I confessed. Confessed! Some dream I had must have mistaken you for God that day. But you're not, you're not, and let you remember it! Let you look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not.
ELIZABETH: I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, John (with a smile), only somewhat bewildered.
PROCTOR, laughing bitterly: Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer! (II.65-87)
Elizabeth is a good and just woman, but forgiveness is difficult under any circumstances—and as a result, her husband feels judged every day of their marriage. The situation is a difficult one. It’s impossible for Elizabeth to know whether her husband is dishonest because he still desires Abigail or if he is simply too scared of Elizabeth’s suspicions to be honest. They both assume the worst about the other person.
MARY WARREN, like one awakened to a marvelous secret insight: So many time, Mr. Proctor, she come to this very door, beggin' bread and a cup of cider—and mark this: whenever I turned her away empty, she mumbled.
ELIZABETH: Mumbled! She may mumble if she's hungry.
MARY WARREN: But what does she mumble? You must remember, Goody Proctor. Last month—a Monday, I think—she walked away, and I thought my guts would burst for two days after. Do you remember it?
ELIZABETH: Why—I do, I think, but—
MARY WARREN: And so I told that to Governor Danforth, and he asks her so. "Goody Osburn," says he, "what curse do you mumble that this girl must fall sick after turning you away?" And then she replies (mimicking an old crone) "Why, your excellence, no curse at all. I only say my commandments; I hope I may say my commandments," says she!
ELIZABETH: And that's an upright answer.
MARY WARREN: Aye, but then Governor Danforth say, "Recite for us your commandments!" (leaning avidly toward them) and of all the ten she could not say a single one. She never knew no commandments, and they had her in a flat lie!
PROCTOR: And so condemned her?
MARY WARREN, now a little strained, seeing his stubborn doubt: Why, they must when she condemned herself.
PROCTOR: But the proof, the proof!
MARY WARREN, with greater impatience with him: I told you the proof. It's hard proof, hard as rock, the judges said. (II.118-128)
The court’s decision is made without evidence or hard proof, which is hardly “justice” in Proctor’s judgment. Mary, on the other hand, is caught up in the excitement and prestige of the court. She is incapable of reflecting on the process itself—she just defers to what “the judges said.”