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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.