The Crucible

Act Two

Act Two begins with Proctor and his wife Elizabeth mourning that their own household helper, Mary Warren, is caught up in the frenzy of accusations. Elizabeth is afraid. They know that Abigail is behind these accusations, and Elizabeth urges Proctor to go to town and reveal Abigail's hoax. Elizabeth makes an allusion to the affair Proctor had with Abigail, and catches him in a lie – he told her he was not alone with Abigail at the Parris home, but in fact he was. Proctor, irritable and defensive, complains that Elizabeth still doesn't trust him and never will, even though he has been a good husband for the last seven months since Abigail left.

Mary Warren returns to the Proctors' home, exhausted from her day assisting in the trials. Proctor reprimands her for being away all day – after all, he declares, Mary is paid to help Elizabeth in the household and has been shirking her duties. Mary states that her work in the courts is of great significance; and, with an increased air of importance, Mary insists that she no longer should be ordered around by John Proctor. In a lighter moment, Mary gives Elizabeth a poppet (doll) that she stitched during the day – but, after heightened tension between Mary and Proctor, Mary claims she saved Elizabeth's life because Elizabeth's name came up in the trials that day. When Mary goes to bed, Elizabeth says she has known from the beginning that her name would come up. She tells Proctor that he needs to set things straight with Abigail. He committed adultery with her – and having sex with a woman, Elizabeth says, is tantamount to giving that woman “a promise” – an implicit promise that the two lovers will be together permanently some day. Elizabeth says Proctor must break this promise deliberately. Proctor becomes angry, and again accuses his wife of never forgiving him for his indiscretion.

At this inopportune moment, Reverend Hale arrives. He is investigating the people whose names have turned up in the trial. Several other figures from the court show up including Giles and Francis whose wives have been arrested for witchcraft. They are looking for proof of Elizabeth’s guilt, and inquire about any poppets in the house. Elizabeth says she has no poppets other than the one that Mary gave her that very day. Upon inspection, Mary's doll is shown to have a needle stuck in its center. Earlier that day, Abigail Williams claimed to have been mysteriously stuck with a needle, and accused Elizabeth Proctor of being the culprit. As Mary does identify the doll as hers, the men cart Elizabeth Proctor off to jail anyway, against the angry protests of her husband.


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