The Crucible is a drama based upon the 1690's Massachusetts witchcraft trials. The Crucible tells of the havoc wrought in early Salem when some restless young girls claim that witches are taking over the village. Their leader, Abigail Williams, hopes for revenge against Elizabeth Proctor, her past employer. Abby was dismissed from her job because she had an affair with Elizabeth's husband, John. Accusations of witchcraft are made, and many women, including Elizabeth, are arrested.
John joins other sensible townspeople to contradict the charges. Charged and imprisoned himself, John must decide whether to live by swearing to a lie, or hang from telling the truth. Elizabeth Proctor, or "Goody Proctor," is a conscientious, faithful wife. She possesses dignity, honesty, and wisdom.
When two court officials come to arrest Elizabeth, she speaks up firmly about Mary's doll. Faced with arrest and even death, however, she leaves quietly, but not without having first left instructions about the care of her house and children. She is afraid, but resolutely declares that she will not fear. "I will fear nothing, (pg. 78) " she says with dignity. Respected by her husband because she has always told the truth, Elizabeth is called upon without warning to testify as to his relationship with Abigail.
"In her life, sir, she have never lied. There are them that cannot sing, and them that cannot weep-my wife cannot lie, (pg. 111) " Proctor says to Danforth. She stretches the truth as far as possible. It is clear that Elizabeth loves her husband enough to go against her own strict code in an attempt to save him. Elizabeth has not confessed but has promptly informed the court of her pregnancy, aware that they might not readily execute a woman expecting a child.
John say to Danforth, "But if she say she is pregnant, then she must be! That woman will never lie, Mr. Danforth. (pg. 92) " Throughout the play, Elizabeth gains wisdom. She shows more spirit than her husband in denying any suggestion that she has failed in her religious obligations.
She has lived up to her creed and she knows it. If she can be thought a witch, then she knows there is no such thing as witchcraft. "If you think that I am one, then I say there are none, (pg. 70) " she says to Mr. Hale. In her final appearance becomes evident that Elizabeth has become wiser and more understanding as a result of her cruel imprisonment.
She has realized that she cannot tell her husband what to do. Loving him now more than ever, she desperately wants him to live and knows that she can probably persuade him to do so. Elizabeth knows that John must achieve some peace of soul even if it means his death. Elizabeth Proctor is a good woman, although charged with ridiculous outrages.
She is faced with the question of whether or not to lie about her husband's infidelity. If she confesses to John's affair with Abigail it will clear her of the witchcraft charges but this choice also means death for her husband. Elizabeth remains true to her husband and does not confess her knowledge of her husband's affair. In the end, John confesses and accepts his fate. The tragedy of their dilemma is that both, in their efforts to protect and love each other, end up losing each other when John is hanged.