Act I

And what shall I say to them? That my daughter and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest? 

In this simile, Parris compares the girls he caught dancing in the forest to heathens, a term that refers to worshipers of gods other than the God of the Christian Bible.   

PARRIS: Your name in the town—it is entirely white, is it not? 

ABIGAIL, with an edge of resentment: Why, I am sure it is, sir. There be no blush about my name. 

In this exchange, Parris and Abigail use a metaphor to discuss Abigail’s reputation (name) in town. A “white” name means that people believe she is innocent and pure, whereas they might blush at her name if she has a reputation for indecency.  

I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near! Or did I dream that? 

Lashing out at Proctor after he rebuffs her advances, Abigail uses a simile to compare his behavior during a past adulterous encounter to that of a male horse in the act of mating. 

Act II

Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. 

In this simile, Elizabeth Proctor compares Abigail leading the girls through the crowded courtroom to the Old Testament story of Moses parting the Red Sea so the Israelites could pass through.  

I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you.

In this metaphor, Elizabeth compares Proctor’s guilty conscience to a judge who condemns him for his affair with Abigail.  

My wife is the very brick and mortar of the church, Mr. Hale. . . 

In this metaphor, Francis Nurse compares his falsely accused wife, Rebecca Nurse, to the bricks and mortar that hold up the church building, suggesting that she cannot be a witch because she is such a stout Christian.  

I will fall like an ocean on that court! Fear nothing, Elizabeth. 

Enraged at the unjust accusations leveled against his wife Elizabeth, in this simile John Proctor vows to destroy the court with the ferocity of an ocean wave crashing upon a beach.  


. . . we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.  

In this metaphor, Danforth likens himself to the rising sun shining a light on evils that had previously been indistinguishable from good.   

Act IV

I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up. 

In this extended simile, Hale compares his arrival in Salem to that of a groom bringing gifts to his bride, only to see his good intentions destroy the town.  

I have read my heart this three month, John. . . . I have sins of my own to count. It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery. 

In this metaphor, Elizabeth compares self-examination to reading her own heart like a book and learning that she bears some responsibility for her husband’s adultery.