by Arthur Miller
The Crucible John Proctor Quotes
PROCTOR, breathless and in agony: It [Abigail] is a whore!
DANFORTH, dumfounded: You charge—?
ABIGAIL: Mr. Danforth, he is lying!
PROCTOR: Mark her! Now she'll suck a scream to stab me with but—
DANFORTH: You will prove this! This will not pass!
PROCTOR, trembling, his life collapsing about him: I have known her, sir. I have known her.
DANFORTH: You—you are a lecher?
FRANCIS, horrified: John, you cannot say such a—
PROCTOR: Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me. (To Danforth:) A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that.
DANFORTH, dumfounded: In—in what time? In what place?
PROCTOR, his voice about to break, and his shame great: In the proper place—where my beasts are bedded. On the last night of my joy, some eight months past. She used to serve me in my house, sir. (He has to clamp his jaw to keep from weeping.) A man may think God sleeps, but God sees everything, I know it now. I beg you, sir, I beg you—see her what she is. My wife, my dear good wife, took this girl soon after, sir, and put her out on the highroad. And being what she is, a lump of vanity, sir— (He is being overcome.) Excellency, forgive me, forgive me. (Angrily against himself, he turns away from the Governor for a moment. Then, as though to cry out is his only means of speech left:) She thinks to dance with me on my wife's grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore's vengeance, and you must see it now. (III.374-384)
Proctor reveals Abigail’s true motivations, jealousy and desire, at great personal cost to himself. If had made the revelation earlier, perhaps it could have prevented the tragedy of the witch-hunt.
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.
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.