Discuss the changes in the relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor in the course of the play?
‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller is set in the deeply religious puritanical society of Salem during the late 18th century and is based on the Salem witch hunts which developed through mass hysteria of the community. The religious ideas of good and evil helped fuel this witch hunt sent out from England for their beliefs. In the play Arthur Miller uses the names of real people from the town of Salem at the time as characters in his play, only changing some of their details to suit the ideas in his play. In the play the relationship between John and Elizabeth changes as the play develops as well as changes in character and events which shape this differentiating relationship between them.
When we first see John he is at Parris’s home with Betty (who has fallen ill) and with Abigail. We see Abigail try to rekindle an affair her and John had whilst Elizabeth was ill ‘John-I am waitin’ for you every night.’ However John, even though he still has feelings for Abigail ‘I may think of you softly.’ He does not go back to her as he knows that he had betrayed Elizabeth ‘angered-at himself’ and that angers him as there are still feelings between him and Elizabeth which he wishes to savour. But also there is a part in him that knows God is his judge and also he must follow his own morals ‘He is a sinner... against his own vision of decent conduct’ and he does not wish to go back to committing adultery. And we see that he is strong towards his wife than Abigail ‘You’ll speak nothin’ of Elizabeth!’ as he wishes to protect her from Abigail, which is his aim throughout the court scene after Elizabeth is accused of committing in witchcraft by Abigail. However Proctors feeling that he needs to stay with Elizabeth and protect her he does not share or show with Elizabeth as we see at the start of Act 2.