University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
How is John’s relationship with Elizabeth different from that with Abigail?
The relationship betwen John and Abigail had more physical chemistry and lust compared to that between John and Elizabeth, who kept a more estranged and distant relationship. This is seen from Abigail’s flirtatious relationship with John, with Abigail caught admiring John physique, “absorbing his presence, wide-eyed”, in comparison with Elizabeth, who simply “receives” John’s kiss and remains indifferent towards his warm approaches. With that, we understand that John and Abigail shared a more romantic and passionate relationship between them, compared to the cold and slightly distant relationship between John and his wife. This is probably due to the fact that Abigail is more emotional and reciprocrates John’s feelings for her openly unlike Elizabeth, who tends to be more frigid and timid. With the contrast in characters, we see how each of them responds to John’s affections differently, with Elizabeth holding back from him due to the affair he previously had. This attraction between John and Abigail is further seen in a short exchange between them, where John reacts to the flirtings with “a knowing smile”,while Abigail pushes on and asks for “a soft word”, while the Proctor household remains cold and lacking in warmth and passion.
John and Elizabeth both show true concern for one another while the relationship between Abigail and John is very superficial and self-serving. This is evident where John defends Elizabeth from Abigail’s malicious comments, ordering her to “speak nothin’ of Elizabeth.”, showing that John truely does care for Elizabeth and would stand up to anyone who bad-mouths her. His protective action is a display of geniune love and his commitment to stay devoted to his wife, thus portraying him as a good and repentant husband. This is unlike his relationship with Abigail, who he later calls a “child”, that sports a condescending tone. He tries to forget all past ties he had with Abigail, even teling her that “we never touched”. He turns away from Abigail’s desperate pleas to come back to her and simply puts her away, after making use of her love for him. With that, we understand that John probably never geniunely cared for Abigail and only took advantage of her youth and naïve self to satisfy his selfish desires.
John shows sacrificial love towards Elizabeth while Abigail and John’s relationship arise out of selfish desires. This can be seen when John risks his reputation to protect Elizabeth from the courts. He shows open defiance and “ripping (rips) the warrant” when Cheever comes to arrest his wife. By putting aside his pride and “white name”, he shows the reader his unconditional and unfailing love for Elizabeth. He even tries to bribe Herrick to let Elizabeth go, exclaiming “I’ll pay you!” desprately in a bid to rescue her. Although Elizabeth treated him coldly with suspicion for the past, he was still willing to give up his good name for the one he loved. He promises her a safe return and puts in all his strength to save his wife. In contrast, however, his relationship with Abigail does not show any of such love, with Abigail ending up having to plead with him for acceptance. She exclaims” John, pity me, pity me!”, begging desperately in tears and practically clinging on to him with every ounce of energy she had . John however rejects her coldly and does nothing to comfort or assure her.