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Free Study Guide-The Crucible by Arthur Miller-Free Booknotes Summary
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ACT II

Summary (continued)

Just then Giles Corey and Francis Nurse arrive with the news that both their wives have been arrested. They plead with Reverend Hale to intercede with Deputy Governor Danforth. On being asked about the charges, Francis says that his wife has been charged with the "supernatural" murder of Putnam's babies. Reverend Hale assures him that the court is bound to find a pious and upright woman like Rebecca innocent. Giles objects to her being tried, but Hale says that he is satisfied that there is widespread witchcraft in Salem and, under the circumstances, such incidents are bound to take place. The arguments by Giles, Francis, and John are of no avail.


Ezekiel Cheever, who has been made Clerk of the Court, arrives along with Marshal Herrick to arrest Elizabeth Proctor. Giles Corey berates Cheever, but he says that he is merely carrying out orders and is on the way to arrest sixteen women, all accused by Abigail. He asks Proctor to hand over any poppets his wife possesses. When she says that she has none, he points out the one given to her by Mary earlier and takes possession of it. While Elizabeth goes to find Mary, Herrick points out a needle stuck in the poppet's abdomen and says that while taking dinner at Reverend Parris' residence, Abigail suddenly fell down with a loud scream. Reverend Parris found a needle stuck two inches deep in her abdomen, and she accused Elizabeth's spirit of sticking it there. Proctor says that she must have stuck it in herself, having seen Mary preparing the poppet, but Cheever is convinced that Elizabeth is guilty. Under Proctor's questioning, Mary admits that the poppet belongs to her and that she had stuck the needle there herself. When Hale tells Elizabeth that she has been accused by Abigail of trying to murder her by sticking a needle in her abdomen, Elizabeth flies into a rage and says that Abigail is perverse and deserves to be "ripped out of the world." This is taken by Cheever and Herrick as further proof that Elizabeth is possessed. John accuses Hale of being a "Pontius Pilate" -- of trying to wash his hands of his guilt in the affair. He tries to physically prevent Elizabeth's arrest, but she agrees to go voluntarily.

After Elizabeth is taken away, Giles charges Hale of siding with fraud. Hale tries to pacify John, who threatens to throw him out bodily, by promising to honestly testify about all that he has seen and heard. Hale also tries to justify the proceedings. John is impressed by his words, but still shaken.

When the others have left, John insists that Mary must accompany him to the court and tell the truth. She says that Abigail will kill her and will also accuse him of lechery. John says that he will not allow his wife to die for his or Abigail's sins. When she still refuses, John threatens her with violence. She keeps sobbing and protesting that she cannot do it.

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