Act 2 of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" is a crucial turning point in the play as it marks the beginning of the Salem witch trials and the height of the hysteria and paranoia that sweeps through the town.
The act opens with the arrival of Reverend John Hale, a specialist in detecting and defeating witchcraft, who has been summoned by the town to help root out the alleged witches. Hale immediately begins questioning the girls, particularly Abigail Williams, who has accused Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch.
As the questioning continues, more and more people are accused of practicing witchcraft, including Elizabeth Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, and Martha Corey. Despite the lack of evidence against them, the girls' accusations are taken as truth and the accused are arrested and imprisoned.
As the trials continue, the town becomes more divided and the accusations more widespread. Even those who try to stand up against the hysteria, like John Proctor and Giles Corey, are accused and threatened with arrest.
Act 2 also reveals the motivations behind the accusations. Abigail Williams is revealed to be motivated by her desire for John Proctor and her jealousy of Elizabeth. The other girls are also revealed to be motivated by their fear of being punished for dancing in the woods, which is seen as a sin in the Puritan society of Salem.
Overall, Act 2 of "The Crucible" serves as a powerful commentary on the dangers of mass hysteria and the power of fear and deceit to manipulate and destroy a society. It serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of reason and truth in the face of irrationality and propaganda.
The Crucible Act II Summary & Analysis
. Mary Warren: I never knew it before. Mary Warren enters, and gives Elizabeth a poppet that she made in court that day. Mary, in a last ditch effort to escape punishment for disobediently leaving her work to spend the day in Salem, points at Elizabeth and says, ''I saved her life today! The news shakes Hale, who points out that many have confessed. He says that he is calling on the accused to try to determine their involvement with witchcraft.
Your mind is surely settled now. We will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court what you know. Elizabeth is disturbed to realize that Proctor and Abigail were alone together, but Proctor angers at her suspicion. Proctor: The Deputy Governor will permit it? I have wondered if there be witches in the world - although I cannot believe they come among us now. Cheever, wide-eyed, trembling: The girl, the Williams girl, Abi-gail Williams, sir.
Will you sit you down, sir? Proctor: It is your poppet, is it not? I should have roared you down when first you told me your suspicion. Elizabeth: Who accused me? Hale - indicating Giles - and Martha Corey, there cannot be a woman closer yet to God than Martha. Hale, obviously disturbed - and evasive: Goody Proctor, I do not judge you. I knew all week it would come to this! I have good reason to think before I charge fraud on Abigail, and I will think on it. Think on cause, man, and let you help me to discover it. Hale visits the Proctors because he wants to speak with everyone whose name has been mentioned in connection with witchcraft. Proctor ignores the implications of her comment.
When will you proceed to keep this house, as you are paid nine pound a year to do - and my wife not wholly well? They are able to do so together, but Elizabeth still suspects she will be accused. She gets up and goes and pours a glass for him. Elizabeth - now she would justify herself: John, I am only - Proctor: No more! You saw her with a crowd, you said. I have not moved from there to there without I think to please you, and still an everlasting funeral marches round your heart. Elizabeth, concerned that Abigail is still in love with him, begs her husband to speak to Abigail.
Elizabeth wants him to testify that the accusations are a sham. The girl is mur-der! But if I must I will. She speak of Abigail, and I thought she were a saint, to hear her. Hale looks questioningly at John. Let you look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not.
Elizabeth: You wer e alone with her? Proctor: Pray now for a fair summer. Proctor, moving menacingly toward her: You will tell the court how that poppet come here and who stuck the needle in. Hale: Now, Proctor, Proctor! Proctor: Do you wish to sit up? Hale, a reverend and supposed witch expert, appears and asks them if he can ''put some questions as to the Christian character of this house. Cheever asks if Elizabeth owns any dolls, and Elizabeth replies that she has not owned dolls since she was a girl. I will bring your guts into your mouth, but that goodness will not die for me. Proctor: Why, she done it herself! Some dream I had must have mistaken you for God that day.
Cheever: Why - He draws out a long needle from the poppet - it is a needle! Let you look to your own im-provement before you go to judge your husband any more. Hale, in a fever of guilt and uncertainty, turns from the door to avoid the sight; Mary Warren bursts into tears and sits weeping. Mary reports that thirty-nine people are arrested, and Goody Osburn will hang, but not Mary reveals that she saved Elizabeth's life today, for Elizabeth was accused in court. He goes to Giles and Francis. Elizabeth: I would go to Salem now, John - let you go tonight. He looks to both of them, an attempt at a smile on his face, but his misgivings are clear.
She is one of the girls who, with Abigail Williams, sits in court and accuses people of witchcraft. Proctor, they will not hang them it Act Two 59 they confess. Cheever that the doll belongs to Mary and she is called on to explain. Lilac is the smell of nightfall, I think. Proctor: We know it, sir. Tell me - you have three chil-dren? Hale: And you, woman? He has tiptoed around the house for the seven months since Abigail left, and has confessed to his sin openly, but Elizabeth remains cold.