Just as Proctor and Elizabeth were getting somewhere Hale enters. This makes the audience react to Hale as being annoying despite the fact he could bring good news – “there is a quality of deference about his manner now. ” The two of them are suspicious of Hale as he arrives after dark and Elizabeth “never letting him out of her sight. ” When Hale says that Elizabeth is “mentioned” in the court, he is trying to make it subtler than it actually is, as we find out later in the play that it is something more serious than how Hale describes it at first.
He hides that she is “mentioned” by picking up that he arrived from Rebecca Nurses house. “I come now from Rebecca Nurse’s house. Elizabeth: “shocked. ” This is the desired effect of Hale (and Miller) was that Elizabeth (and the audience) thinks Salem has gone crazy because there is no-one more innocent than Rebecca. In Act One she is portrayed as a sweet lady who was only interested of the welfare of Salem. This is backed by Proctor saying, “Surely, you cannot think so. ”
As Hale gets comfortable, he begins to question Proctor and find any faults in him, because he is clearly struggling. Proctor tries to come back with arguments that are weaker than Hale but Hale seems to accept them. Hale tells Proctor he has no suspicion of him and Proctor tells him that he has done physical work to the church, to make a point of the fact. Hale though is more devious “not altogether giving way” and uses this to gain more of an upper hand over Proctor because he is difficult to overcome. Hale wants to see if Proctor really does believe in Christianity.
Presumably because he doesn’t trust Proctor, especially since the “golden candlesticks,” like Proctor doesn’t trust himself towards the end of Act two. Hale “administers a secret test” to Proctor and asks him his commandments. Proctor is “a trifle unsteady and forgets one commandment that is “thou shalt not commit adultery. ” This is of some significance as Proctor did so with Abigail – whom he and Elizabeth were arguing about before Hale entered. The way Elizabeth tells him “delicately” could add to his “secret arrow paining his heart.
” The tension now becomes great as Proctor wishes Hale to get of his house. Proctor is annoyed with the questioning as he realises his ‘power’ lessening. “Proctor deep in his attempt to define this man. ” This proves the struggle between Hale and Proctor and proctor has met his match, in the sense that not everybody will give into him easily, which is confirmed towards the end of the Act. Hale digs a hole for himself when he says, “theology is a fortress. ” He carries onto say “No crack in a fortress may be accounted small. (He rises and seems worried).
” Hale could be worried because of what he just said could be interpreted in two different ways, either, religion must stick together or what made him worried – religion should be open and encouraging people to join Christianity rather than shutting its doors or people and defending itself in its fortress. As Hale is about to leave, Elizabeth makes a silly mistake by asking Hale “I do think you are questioning me somewhat? Are you not? ” This is like pressing the self-destruct button on her marriage, as Proctor could have been safe but instead brought back into the limelight.
She adds to this by saying in desperation “I think you must tell him John. ” This, just as Hale is about to step outside the door. This is a mistake but Elizabeth is said to have never made a lie, she is feeling guilty and now Proctor suddenly seems to be in more control, like a role-reversal of earlier. Hale knows he is onto a large fault, rather than a small crack in Proctor’s fortress. On the other hand Proctor could be feeling a number of things but especially cornered, “with difficulty. ” Proctor is pressurised into saying Abigail’s name.
He hesitates and by doing so this could be putting Elizabeth, awkwardly, back into the position of being the strongest. This confuses the audience, as now they don’t know whether to be supporting or leaving Proctor alone. Hale senses some suspicion on Proctor’s part and says, “Do you falter here? ” Proctor though is aware of this and comes back with a thoughtful speech. This “impressed” Hale and makes him want to break Proctor even more. Proctor “knows this is critical” and is careful what to says as he realises Hale is onto him.
“I have no knowledge of it” as Hale asks him about witches and then Proctor twigs that it could come across of not having belief so he is able to back it up by talking of the Bible. If he didn’t he would have dug a bigger hole for himself. As the tension rises the audience become uneasy as they get the impression that something dramatic is going to happen because Elizabeth cannot control herself, for she hasn’t spoken for a long time, Proctor is being confronted by Hale, who is getting more and more suspicious.
This is because Proctor is speaking for Elizabeth. This adds to the ever-increasing tension and makes the situation even uneasier. Hale asks Elizabeth the same question and she does not believe in witches. This shocks Hale and the audience; they would have thought that, Elizabeth, who is a follower of the church, would have gone along with his interpretation of the Bible. The tension has reached a dramatic high but that is calmed when Giles Corey and Francis Nurse appear in the doorway.