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Miller illustrates significant tension in the relationship since Proctor's affair with Abigail Williams. Elizabeth Proctor is intensely suspicious of her husband, worrying when he arrives at home late for dinner and adopting a condescending tone when her husband admits that he was momentarily alone with Abigail Williams. Miller establishes Elizabeth Proctor as a morally upright woman, respectable and dignified, yet with an air of superiority that renders her frigid and distant. Proctor feels that Elizabeth has made her home into a repressive atmosphere, continually punishing her husband for his wrongdoing. Still, if Elizabeth adopts a tone of moral superiority it is because she is the superior of her contemporaries, with an unwavering belief in the capability of persons to remain moral.
Miller creates an atmosphere of guilt within the Proctor household that mirrors the similar conditions within larger Puritan society. Proctor has expressed contrition for his infidelity and asked for forgiveness, yet there is no sense of catharsis within his marriage nor ability for full reconciliation. The Proctor marriage is stagnant and stifling, as the fact of John's adultery lingers in every conversation like a giant white elephant. Miller demonstrates this, in particular, when Proctor is unable to recall the commandment against adultery – it is a moment of humor, but it also reflects the crisis of the Proctor marriage. Miller seems to indicate that, like the rest of their Puritan society, the Proctors need an outlet to expiate John's sins and without this means for redemption they are committed to a perpetual obsession with past infidelity.