One cannot help noting that one of his lines has never yet raised a laugh in any audience that has seen this play; it is his assurance that ‘We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise.’ Evidently we are not quite certain even now whether diabolism is holy and not to be scoffed at. And it is no accident that we should be so bemused.
No, no. Now let me instruct you. We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I should find no bruise of Hell upon her.
It discomfits me! Last night—mark this—I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly—mark this—I could pray again!
He say Mr. Parris must be kill! Mr. Parris no goodly man, Mr. Parris mean man and no gently man, and he bid me rise out of my bed and cut your throat! They gasp. But I tell him ‘No! I don’t hate that man.’ But he say, ‘You work for me, Tituba, and I make you free! I give you pretty dress to wear, and put you way high up in the air, you gone fly back to Barbados!’ And I say, ‘You lie, Devil, you lie!’ And then he come one stormy night to me, and he say, ‘Look! I have white people belong to me.’ And look—and there was Goody Good.
I want to open myself! They turn to her, startled. She is enraptured, as though in a pearly light. I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!
The Deputy Governor promise hangin’ if they’ll not confess, John. The town’s gone wild, I think. She speak of Abigail, and I thought she were a saint, to hear her. Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. And folks are brought before them, and if they scream and howl and fall to the floor—the person’s clapped in the jail for bewitchin’ them.
Spare me! You forget nothin’ and forgive nothin’. Learn charity, woman. I have not moved from there to there without I think to please you, and still an everlasting funeral marches round your heart. I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house!
I never knew it before. I never knew anything before. When she come into the court I say to myself, I must not accuse this woman, for she sleep in ditches, and so very old and poor. But then—then she sit there, denying and denying, and I feel a misty coldness climbin’ up my back, and the skin on my skull begin to creep, and I feel a clamp around my neck and I cannot breathe air; and then—entranced—I hear a voice, a screamin’ voice, and it were my voice—and all at once I remember everything she done to me!
Charity, Proctor, charity. What I have heard in her favor, I will not fear to testify in court. God help me, I cannot judge her guilty or innocent—I know not. Only this consider: the world goes mad, and it profits nothing you should lay the cause to the vengeance of a little girl.
Proctor, I cannot think God be provoked so grandly by such a petty cause. The jails are packed—our greatest judges sit in Salem now—and hangin’ promised. Man, we must look to cause proportionate. Were there murder done, perhaps, and never brought to light? Abomination? Some secret blasphemy that stinks to Heaven? Think on cause, man, and let you help me to discover it. For there’s your way, believe it, there is your only way, when such confusion strikes upon the world. He goes to Giles and Francis. Let you counsel among yourselves; think on your village and what may have drawn from heaven such thundering wrath upon you all. I shall pray God open up our eyes.