a distinctive odor that is offensively unpleasant
There is a prodigious
stench in this place.
a dispute where there is strong disagreement
Contention make him weep, sir; it were always a man that weep for
The example sentence makes the "contention" seem significant, but according to Cheever, Parris is simply weeping about cows. This is soon shown as wrong when Parris reveals that he is troubled by Abigail's disappearance and by the upcoming hangings of respected members of the Salem community.
very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
gaunt, frightened, and sweating in his greatcoat.
filled with the emotional impact of overwhelming surprise
astonished: She have robbed you?
a quantity of no importance
Why at every execution I have seen
naught but high satisfaction in the town.
exert much effort or energy
I will myself
strive with him till dawn.
Compare with "contention" in this list (the Latin "tendere" means "to strive"). The use of the verb "strive" reveals Danforth's character, because he sees the convincing of the accused to confess as a contest of wills that could result in a possible victory for him (and God). More revealingly, Danforth says these words, but he doesn't actually do what he says, partly because he doesn't have the time, but mostly because he doesn't have the patience.
of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement
There is not
sufficient time till dawn.
sadness associated with some wrong done or disappointment
He is steeped in
sorrow, exhausted, and more direct than he ever was.
intended to placate
conciliatory: You misunderstand, sir; I cannot pardon these when twelve are already hanged for the same crime. It is not just.
"Placate" means "to cause to be more favorably inclined"--Danforth's outward manner might seem conciliatory, but his words are not, since they make clear that Hale is wrong and he is right in refusing to pardon the accused.
the act of postponing or remitting punishment
Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part;
reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now.
Unlike a reprieve, a pardon releases one from punishment. Danforth's reasons for refusing to grant reprieves or pardons focus on his unwillingness to look like an incompetent judge ("flounder" means "behave awkwardly or with difficulty") who cannot definitively determine guilt and execution dates.
action taken in return for an injury or offense
retaliation is your fear, know this--I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statutes.
Compare with "vengeance" in the list for Act 2. When Proctor describes the vengeance that is walking Salem, he is focused on how Abigail, having been dismissed by Elizabeth, gets her revenge through a false accusation. Here, Danforth's mention of retaliation is a response to Parris's fear, not yet realized, that hanging respected citizens like John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse could dangerously upset the community.
impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, reason
Is he yet
adamant? Has he struck at you again?
a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money
Excellency, there are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the
harlot's cry will end his life--and you wonder yet if rebellion’s spoke?
I come to counsel Christians they should
stick or hold together and resist separation
Beware, Goody Proctor--
cleave to no faith when faith brings blood.
Reverend Hale seems to be recommending that Elizabeth cleave ("separate or cut with a tool") herself from a faith that brings blood. His speech echoes ideas from the Bible book Deuteronomy: "That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy day."
use persuasion successfully
I beg you, woman,
prevail upon your husband to confess.
consisting of or causing a decisive moment
Hale, with a
climactic desperation: Woman, before the laws of God we are as swine! We cannot read His will!
"Climax" can mean both "the highest point of anything" (in this case, the "anything" is Hale's desperation to save a good man from being hanged) and "the decisive moment in a play" (which describes Hale's desperate pleading with Elizabeth, since the outcome of that would affect Proctor's decision to live or die).
an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
A very ape would weep at such
calamity! Have the devil dried up any tear of pity in you?
a consonant characterized by a hissing sound
A sound--the sibilance of dragging feet on stone. They turn.
a concrete representation of an otherwise cloudy concept
He reaches out his hand as though toward an
embodiment not quite real, and as he touches her, a strange soft sound, half laughter, half amazement, comes from his throat.
a formal document charging a person with some offense
He would not answer aye or nay to his
indictment; for if he denied the charge they’d hang him surely, and auction out his property.
Proctor, pauses, then with a
flailing of hope: Giles’ wife? Have she confessed?
an instrument of public execution
I cannot mount the
gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud...I am not that man.
feeling a need to see others suffer
Spite only keeps me silent. It is hard to give a lie to dogs.
the quality of being valueless or futile
It is pretense for me, a
vanity that will not blind God nor keep my children out of the wind.
Proctor talks himself into choosing life by arguing that he can't choose to hang like a saint, since he's a sinner who has lied; choosing to hang would be a useless action that would not fool God or protect his children. "Vanity" also means "feelings of excessive pride"--this can be seen in Hale's words: "It is pride, it is vanity." By naming the new choice a sin, Hale hopes to convince Elizabeth to change Proctor's mind.
a manifestation of God's foresightful care for his creatures
Hathorne, with a mystical tone: God be praised! It is a
He rushes out the door, and his voice is heard calling down the corridor: He will confess! Proctor will confess!
harass with persistent teasing or baiting
He moves as an animal, and a fury is riding in him, a
burn superficially or lightly
You would not; if tongs of fire were
singeing you you would not! It is evil. Good, then--it is evil, and I do it!
skillfulness in avoiding wasted time and effort
Proctor, with a cold, cold horror at their
efficiency: Why must it be written?
a platform from which criminals are executed
Come, man, there is light in the sky; the town waits at the
scaffold; I would give out this news.
feel happiness or joy
Why, you should
rejoice to say it if your soul is truly purged of any love for Hell!
not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving
incredulous: Mr. Proctor, do you think they go like saints?
expressing pain or agony
His breast heaving with
agonized breathing, Proctor now lays the paper down and signs his name.
In Greek, "agon" means "struggle" (and can be seen in the words "protagonist" and "antagonist")--Proctor's agonized breathing is not due to physical stress but to his emotional struggle with signing his name to a false confession. This struggle later erupts in the words: "I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"
seemingly limitless in amount, number, degree, or extent
But Proctor snatches it up, and now a wild terror is rising in him, and a
remorse for your past conduct
Is there no good
penitence but it be public?
the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil
You will not use me! It is no part of
salvation that you should use me!
showing unfeeling resistance to tender feelings
Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show honor now, show a
stony heart and sink them with it!
announce publicly or officially
What profit him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms
declare his truth?
The Latin "clarus" means "clear" so a declaration is usually associated with clear truths, but here, Hale is trying to urge Elizabeth to urge her husband to save himself by giving the court the lie it wants to hear (but won't admit is a lie).
The final drumroll crashes, then
In solemn meeting, the congregation
rescinded the excommunications--this in March 1712.