The Crucible – Quotations

Elizabeth: I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you.

ANALYSIS: Elizabeth uses a metaphor to explain that Proctor will not forgive himself, that she no longer accuses him of any crime, but he judges himself continually.

Proctor: Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer!

ANALYSIS: Proctor responds, again using hyperbole, suggesting that Elizabeth has been emotionally cold to him since the affair, so cold that it could freeze alcohol.

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! This warrant’s vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to vengeance! — Proctor

ANALYSIS: Proctor personifies the idea of vengeance, suggesting that it walks the streets of Salem and attacks people. It is no longer controlled by the law, however. He says that “the little crazy children” are responsible, and are using the law to kill anyone they see fit.

Proctor: I have known her sir! I have known her.
Danforth: In what time? What place?
Proctor: In the proper place where my beasts are bedded.

ANALYSIS: It is key here to see that Proctor believes it “proper” that he and Abigail had sex in a barn. He regards their actions as animalistic. Specifically, he uses the word “beasts” to describe himself and Abigail. This particular word has a clear animal denotation, but there is a definite connotation of the Devil, of evil.

Proctor: Elizabeth, I’ve confessed it.

ANALYSIS: This is Proctor’s short cry after Elizabeth has lied to save his name. The whole play turned upon her answer to Danforth (“No, sir.”) and this is Proctor’s simple outburst of despair.

A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud—God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together! — Proctor

ANALYSIS: With the Court siding with Abigail and the girls, Proctor is led out of the court. He shouts this over his shoulder and uses Biblical references to make his point. He says that the Court has perverted the course of justice, and is now actually doing the work of the Devil. When he repeatedly says “we will burn” he is making a stark allusion to the fact that he and Danforth are BOTH in the wrong, and both will go to hell for their errors.

It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery. – Elizabeth

ANALYSIS:  Here, Elizabeth accepts that she may have prompted John to seek an affair. Importantly, she accepts John’s earlier accusation that she has been emotionally “cold”. This causes us to sympathise with her as she clearly wants to share the blame for the damage to the marriage.

I have three children – how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends? – Proctor

ANALYSIS: When Proctor talks of having “sold my friends” he is indicating that he has been offered a way out of the death penalty, but it would mean condemning other innocent people in the village. He would be alive having falsely accused the others. In order to preserve his honour, and allow his children “to walk like men” (with their honour in tact) he must tell the truth, and he must be hanged.

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! — Proctor

ANALYSIS: This is a powerful speech about honour in the play. Proctor, nearly hysterical with indignation, lists all the reasons why he must destroy the confession and accept the court’s (false) judgment. The anaphora of “Because” has the rhetorical effect of building up tension, while the final sentence acts as a dramatic climax: he has given the court everything – his family and his life – he only asks that they allow his name not to be tainted by lies.