The tension during Act two is made even more dramatic by contrasting with the coldness and quietness at the start of Act two. At the beginning of Act two, Miller has purposely included very detailed stage directions about how Proctors house should appear on stage. Firstly, Proctors common room is low, dark and rather long which although is common for a Puritan living room, it suggest an unpleasant atmosphere within the household. As the curtain rises, the room is empty is also included within the opening set of stage directions.
The room is empty and still which again creates a contrast to the hysteria of Betty and Abigails accusations of witchcraft and the heated argument between John and Elizabeth. One reason for Miller to create this contrast could be that he wanted to make the peaceful start to Act two make the ending of Act one and the argument between John and Elizabeth seem more dramatic and to make parts of Act two with John and Elizabeth seem more controversial. As John enters the living room, he halts as he hears Elizabeth singing.
Miller may have added this halts because John is not knowing what to expect Elizabeth to be like with him because of the unsaid words that still lie between them about Johns affair with Abigail, or because he is enjoying listening to Elizabeths singing. John could also be worried that Elizabeth may question his whereabouts of that afternoon because he is late returning home. Elizabeths first words are, What keeps you so late? which suggests to the audience that Elizabeth has a lack of trust in John because of Johns affair.
John gives a credible explanation, I were planting far out to the forest edge. and then tries to start a conversation. However, Elizabeths responses are laconic, Aye. , Thats well. and Aye, it would. which suggests that Elizabeth does not want to talk to John. This could be because Elizabeth is still hurt because of the relations between John and Abigail or because Elizabeths mind is elsewhere because of all the accusations of witchcraft circulating through out Salem at this time.