ELIZABETH, reasonably: John, have you ever shown her somewhat of contempt? She cannot pass you in the church but you will blush-
PROCTOR: I may blush for my sin.
ELIZABETH: I think she sees another meaning in that blush.
PROCTOR: And what see you? What see you, Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH, conceding: I think you be somewhat ashamed, for I am there, and she so close.
PROCTOR: When will you know me, woman? Were I stone I would have cracked for shame this seven month!
ELIZABETH: Then go and tell her she's a whore. Whatever promise she may sense-break it, John, break it.
PROCTOR, between his teeth: Good, then. I'll go. He starts for his rifle.
PROCTOR, turning on her, rifle in hand: I will curse her hotter than the oldest cinder in hell. But pray, begrudge me not my anger!
ELIZABETH: Your anger! I only ask you-
PROCTOR: Woman, am I so base? Do you truly think me base?
ELIZABETH: I never called you base.
PROCTOR: Then how do you charge me with such a promise? The promise that a stallion gives a mare I gave that girl!
ELIZABETH: Then why do you anger with me when I bid you break it?
PROCTOR: Because it speaks deceit, and I am honest! But I'll plead no more! I see now your spirit twists around the single error of my life, and I will never tear it free!
ELIZABETH, crying out: You'll tear it free-when you come to know that I will be your only wife, or no wife at all! She has an arrow in you yet, John Proctor, and you know it well! (II. 170-186)
HALE, quietly-it has impressed him: Proctor, let you open with me now, for I have a rumor that troubles me. It's said you hold no belief that there may even be witches in the world. Is that true, sir?
PROCTOR- he knows this is critical, and is striving against his disgust with Hale and with himself for even answering: I know not what I have said, I may have said it. I have wondered if there be witches in the world-although I cannot believe they come among us now.
HALE: Then you do not believe –
PROCTOR: I have no knowledge of it; the Bible speaks of witches, and I will not deny them.
HALE: And you, woman?
ELIZABETH: I-I cannot believe it.
HALE, shocked: You cannot!
PROCTOR: Elizabeth, you bewilder him!
ELIZABETH, to Hale: I cannot think the Devil may own a woman's soul, Mr. Hale, when she keeps an upright way, as I have. I am a good woman, I know it; and if you believe I may do only good work in the world, and yet be secretly bound to Satan, then I must tell you, sir, I do not believe it.
HALE: But, woman, you do believe there are witches in-
ELIZABETH: If you think that I am one, then I say there are none.
HALE: You surely do not fly against the Gospel, the Gospel-
PROCTOR: She believe in the Gospel, every word!
ELIZABETH: Question Abigail Williams about the Gospel, not myself!
Hale stares at her.
PROCTOR: She do not mean to doubt the Gospel, sir, you cannot think it. This be a Christian house, sir, a Christian house.
HALE: God keep you both; let the third child be quickly baptized, and go you without fail each Sunday in to Sabbath prayer; and keep a solemn, quiet way among you. (II.277-292)
PROCTOR, moving menacingly toward her: You will tell the court how that poppet come here and who stuck the needle in.
MARY WARREN: She'll kill me for sayin' that! Proctor continues toward her. Abby'll charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor!
PROCTOR, halting: She's told you!
MARY WARREN: I have known it, sir. She'll ruin you with it, I know she will.
PROCTOR, hesitating, and with deep hatred of himself: Good. Then her saintliness is done with. Mary backs from him. We will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court what you know.
MARY WARREN, in terror: I cannot, they'll turn on me –
Proctor strides and catches her, and she is repeating, "I cannot, I cannot!"
PROCTOR: My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me!
MARY WARREN, struggling to escape him: I cannot do it, I cannot!
PROCTOR, grasping her by the throat as though he would strangle her: Make your peace with it! Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped away-make your peace! He throws her to the floor, where she sobs, "I cannot, I cannot." And now, half to himself, staring, and turning to the open door: Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. He walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky. Aye, naked! And the wind, God's icy wind, will blow! (II.427-436)