While the first act is set in public setting of Reverend Parris's home, the second enters the more private area of Proctor's life. In doing so, Miller provides insight into the protagonist in the context of his own surroundings. The intrusion of public matters, such as the witch trials, into the private sphere of Proctor's life is also conveyed here.
The conversation between John and his wife Elizabeth in their own house reveals a great deal about their individual characters and their relationship. Although their conversation is often mundane, formal and restricted at times, tension is evidently present in the subtext. This is conveyed through the use of simple stage directions, for example "it is hard to say." The nature of their relationship is also mirrored in the surrounding minimalist environment on which John comments, "It is winter in here yet." Undoubtedly, this tension between Elizabeth and John is a result of John's previous affair with Abigail.
Even as Proctor enters the scene, suspicions are raised by Elizabeth and he is quick to create a lie for his absence. When she eventually discovers the truth however, Elizabeth adopts a condescending tone, saying "Do as you wish then." Proctor's immediate reaction to her words is anger, as he believes his wife perpetually punishes him for his wrong-doings. But, Elizabeth correctly indicates to him that it is "the magistrate that sits in his heart that judges him." From this point onward, it is clear to the audience that Proctor suffers from guilt, and being one who loathes hypocrites, this guilt is heightened as he judges himself no less harshly than he judges others.
Using the interaction between the two characters, Miller also manages to create an atmosphere of guilt in proctor's household, which resembles the society as a...