"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller, Act II, Language Analysis - analyzes the increasing tensions between John and Elizabeth

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In the opening scene of "The Crucible", the playwright reveals insight into John and Elizabeth’s troubled marriage through Elizabeth’s subtle passive-aggressive gestures, John’s incoherent ramblings, and his emotional explosion at the end showing his frustration.

Tension between the two immediately increases when John Proctor comes home late. Apparently, Elizabeth knows about John’s extramarital affair with Abigail. Elizabeth’s annoyance is seen when Proctor states, “Oh, is it [a rabbit]! In Jonathan’s trap?” Elizabeth replies sarcastically, “No, she walked into the house this afternoon; I found her sittin’ in the corner like she come to visit.”When John gets up and kisses Elizabeth, she rejects him further by sampling receiving his gesture. Disappointed and somewhat aware of his wife’s unspoken displeasure, he sits down. The mood has become awkward. John makes small talk, stating, “It’s winter in here yet. On Sunday let you come with me, and we’ll walk the farm together; I never see such a load of flowers on the earth.

Lilacs have a purple smell. Lilac is the smell of nightfall, I think. Massachusetts is a beauty in the spring!” The winter remark refers to the cold atmosphere of the two spouses; they are talking together but are not communicating anything worthwhile. His unfocused rambling does not successfully establish common ground between the two.

“He turns to her and watches her. A sense of their separation rises,” states the stage directions. Proctor asks, “I think you’re sad again. Are you?” Elizabeth, reluctant to cause an argument, replies, “You come so late I thought you’d gone to Salem this afternoon.” However, her attempts are futile because Proctor is set off by Elizabeth’s blunt remark, “Mary Warren’s there [at Salem] today.” He screams, “Why’d you let her? Your heard me forbid her to go to Salem any more!”Insight into their troubled marriage continues when Elizabeth loses all faith in him when Proctor replies “For a moment alone [I was alone with her], aye” and Elizabeth replies, “Why, then, it is not as you told me.” Proctor becomes violent again, warning Elizabeth not to judge him anymore.

Work CitedMiller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin, 1952.