“Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped away—make your peace!…Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. He walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky. Aye, naked! And the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow!” (Proctor, Act 2, p. 80).
Proctor is anticipating the loss of his reputation once it comes to light that he has had an affair with Abigail. It’ll mean the loss of his good name, but on the other hand, it’ll be a way for him to atone for his sins – maybe he’ll at last feel “God’s icy wind” and be able to put this behind him
“I falter nothing, but I may wonder if my story will be credited in such a court. I do wonder on it, when such a steady-minded minister as you will suspicion such a woman that never lied, and cannot, and the world knows she cannot! I may falter somewhat, Mister; I am no fool.” (Proctor, Act 2, p. 65)
The Reverend Hale and John Proctor connect on this level, at least—their recognition that the justice of the court is not “just” if an accusation is equal proof of guilt and if the only way you can avoid punishment is by confessing. But Hale has a hard time believing that someone would confess to something they did not do. He’s either a complete fool or he’s lying to himself.
“Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers? I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem – vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!” (Proctor, Act 2, p. 77)
Proctor is the voice of common sense here, as a counterpoint to Hale’s “don’t question the process” stance. Unlike Hale, Proctor realizes that you can only trust in accusations as much as you can trust the accuser, and Proctor has cause to suspect that at least one of the accusations is being driven by a thirst for vengeance.
“There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court – the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!” (Hale, Act 2, p. 68)
Hale demonstrates perfectly the mindset of the characters affected by the hysteria and fear. In his case, it’s more hysteria than fear – he doesn’t particularly fear that he may be accused as a witch, but he has been persuaded by the “frightful proofs” he’s seen and this has blinded him to any other possible reasons that the witchcraft accusations might be being made.
“Proctor, I cannot think God be provoked so grandly by such a petty cause…think on your village and what may have drawn from heaven such thundering wrath upon you all ” (Hale, Act 2, p. 75)
Reverend Hale talking to Proctor, telling him to think on the cause and to think on his sins.
“MARY WARREN, with greater impatience with him: I told you the proof. It’s hard proof, hard as rock, the judges said.” (Act 2, p. 54)
This is where the court makes a decision regardless of the fact that they had no real evidence.
“No man may longer doubt the powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack up on this village. There is too much evidence now to deny it” (Hale, Act 2, p. 61).
The village is certainly under attack, but not necessarily in the way Hale thinks it is. The real “powers of dark” affecting Salem are suspicion and fear, not anything demonic.
“I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house!” (Proctor, Act 2 p. 52)
“PROCTOR: Because it speaks deceit, and I am honest! But I’ll plead no more! I see now your spirit twists around the single error of my life, and I will never tear it free!” (Act 2, p. 59)
This pair of quotes both demonstrate the ironic concept: as far as the audience understands it, the only person who seems to be judging Proctor is not Elizabeth, but Proctor himself. There’s also a bit of foreshadowing with “as though I come into a court”, since in Act 3 Proctor will do that very thing.
There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. – Reverend Hale to Francis Nurse defending the witch trials in the face of the outrageous arrest of Rebecca Nurse. Act II (page 71)
Reverend Hale to Francis Nurse defending the witch trials in the face of the outrageous arrest of Rebecca Nurse.
Spoke or silent, a promise is surely made. Elizabeth Proctor to her husband, explaining why Abigail would continue to pursue him though he had ended the affair. She tells him that by sleeping with her, he made a commitment to her, at least in her eyes. Act II (page 61)
Elizabeth Proctor to her husband, explaining why Abigail would continue to pursue him though he had ended the affair. She tells him that by sleeping with her, he made a commitment to her, at least in her eyes.