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The Crucible Summary and Analysis of Act Four


The fourth act takes place in a Salem jail cell later on in the fall. Marshal Herrick goes into with a lantern, nearly intoxicated, and awakens Sarah Good. Tituba is also in the cell. She states that they will be going to Barbados as quickly as the Devil shows up. Hopkins, a guard, informs them that the Deputy Guv has arrived. Danforth discusses with Hathorne whether it is smart to enable the increasingly mad-looking Parris to invest so much time with the prisoners. Cheever remarks on the numerous cows roaming the streets, now that their masters remain in jail. Hale has been pleading Rebecca Nurse to confess to witchcraft.

Parris arrives and tells Danforth that Abigail has actually vanished with Mercy Lewis. They have actually taken Parris’ strongbox and he is now penniless. Parris claims that there are reports of a disobedience versus the witchcraft procedures in Andover. Hathorne advises Parris that all have actually enjoyed with the Salem executions, but Parris advises him that Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor are reputable members of the community and their executions will not be taken as well. Parris recommends holding off these hangings, and confesses that there seems to be frustration, as shown by the low turnout at Proctor’s excommunication.

Parris worries for his security, having actually discovered a dagger at his entrance. Danforth refuses postponement, as it would reveal weak point on his part. Danforth summons Elizabeth Proctor. Hale informs Elizabeth that he does not want Proctor to pass away, as he would then consider himself a murderer. He informs Elizabeth that God damns a phony less than a person who throws one’s life away. Elizabeth claims that this is a devil’s argument, however Hale says that we are not capable of checking out God’s will. Danforth questions if there is any wifely tenderness in Elizabeth. Elizabeth asks to talk to her hubby. Herrick generates Proctor, who is now bearded and filthy. Proctor asks about Elizabeth’s coming kid and the boys, who are kept by Rebecca’s child Samuel. Elizabeth informs Proctor that Giles is dead; he would not solution to his indictment and the court pressed him to death, laying stones on his chest up until he pleaded aye or nay. His last words were “more weight.”

Proctor asks Elizabeth what she would believe if he admitted, but Elizabeth says that she can not evaluate him. She states that she will have him do what he wants, however she does want him alive. Proctor says that he can not mount the gibbet as a saint, as he is not a saint like Goody Nurse. Elizabeth states that she has her own sins to represent, and blames herself for forcing her husband to turn to lechery. Proctor specifies to Hathorne that he will confess himself, however he asks Elizabeth once again if it is evil. She answers that she can not judge, however he asks in return who will evaluate him. When they require a written confession, Proctor asks why he must sign. Danforth says it is for the great direction of the town.

The guards generate Rebecca Nurse, who is amazed that John is confessing. Proctor declines to state that he saw Rebecca Nurse in the Devil’s company, or anybody else. Danforth requires that Proctor show the pureness of his soul by accusing others, however Hale encourages that it suffices that he admit himself. Parris agrees, however Danforth once again demands that Proctor sign the document. Proctor states that he has actually confessed to God, which suffices. He asks Danforth whether a good penitence should be public. Proctor asks how he can teach his kids to stroll like guys when he has offered his pals. Proctor wishes to keep only his name, and Danforth hence refuses to accept his confession. Danforth orders Proctor to be hanged. Hale pleads Elizabeth to plead with Proctor to sign a confession, however Elizabeth mentions that Proctor has his goodness now, and God forbid she take it from him.


The fourth act of The Crucible mostly worries the perversion of justice that has happened in Salem. Miller demonstrates this immediately in the comic interlude that opens the act. Tituba and Sarah Good are foolish comic foils whose claims of communing with Satan are planned to be absurd. Yet while these ladies are spared the gallows because they have actually confessed to witchcraft, those like Rebecca Nurse who decline to confess to a criminal offense they did not dedicate remain sentenced to execution. This large-scale inversion of justice is reflected in the larger workings of Salem society. As Parris claims, there is the possibility of disobedience since of the witchcraft trials, while the many individuals who remain in jail have actually triggered the village to fall under disarray. This is yet another example of the irony of the witchcraft trials: while they meant to protect the order of society, the trials toss Salem into a state of anarchy and disobedience.

However, given that the previous act there has actually been a shift in the general public viewpoint worrying the trials. Miller shows that the people of Salem supported the trials when the victims were undoubtedly unethical members of the community, but the executions of respected figures like Goody Nurse are far more controversial. This enhances the concept that the Salem witch trials were in part vindictive; the function of the trials was not to eliminate witches from Salem, however rather to get rid of certain members of the neighborhood for other reasons. For the people of Salem, the executions only become inappropriate when they involve those honored members of the community, even if the charges against them have the same proof, or absence thereof, as those versus the dishonest Bridget Bishop or Sarah Osburn. The ramifications of this are wholly negative: the shift in popular opinion is not a turn toward justice but rather an expression of individual choice.

If there is a sense of justice in The Crucible, it is meted out to Reverend Parris and Abigail Williams in this act. Reverend Parris exposes himself to be a fool capable of being quickly manipulated by Abigail Williams, whose regret seems obvious thanks to her unexpected escape from town and theft of Parris’ cost savings. However, even with these revelations casting additional doubt on the validity of Abigail’s charges, the Salem court continues with the trials and executions. The trials have actually handled a life of their own, separate from the accusations of the principals, who set legal machinations in movement that even they can not stop. This satisfies the style of snowballing accusations that Miller established early in the play. The allegations began with Abigail Williams, and now, supported by the weight of the judiciary, the prosecution does not stop with her failure.

Contrasting factors to consider of self-interest lead Danforth and Parris to ask John Proctor to confess to witchcraft. While Parris worries for his physical security, Deputy Governor Danforth operates to defend the court from more attack. The modification in Danforth’s obvious motivation is necessary. Formerly, Danforth meant to support the integrity of the court, however here he suggests corruption to simply preserve the political stature of the federal government. Certainly, he even worries that delaying the executions would reveal the court’s weakness. By prompting Proctor to give a clearly false confession, Danforth indicates that he likely thinks that the witchcraft allegations are incorrect. This completely shows how the witch hunts have actually gained a life of their own; factors to consider of credibility and the political dynamic lead the court to continue with prosecutions and executions even when the original supporters of the trials are shown disreputable, and even when the political officials who run these trials reveal severe doubt in the credibility of the charges.

The final passages of The Crucible issue ideas of martyrdom and justice. Miller puts three of the accused as possible martyrs, each representing various approaches and techniques to self-sacrifice. Giles Corey, the very first of the honorable victims of the trials, stays the comic tragedian even in the throes of his death. He does not passively accept the decision of the court, however struggles against the court’s charges. Even when Giles Corey dies at the hands of the court, he selects the mode of execution that will allow his boys to still inherit his home. On the other hand, Rebecca Nurse accepts her fate passively, a long-suffering martyr to the court’s oppression. Unlike the truculent Giles Corey, Rebecca Nurse just displays those most Christian qualities of resignation and turning the other cheek.

The vital test for John Proctor in this act is whether he will accept the martyrdom of Giles Corey and Rebecca Nurse or select self-interest. Proctor himself proposes the question of whether a sinful male may accept martyrdom by clinging to concepts he has actually not always maintained. The saintly Rebecca Nurse might accept martyrdom since it matches her character, however the sinful Proctor questions whether or not it is hypocrisy to mean his principles when he is an overt sinner. Miller indicates that Proctor might pick self-sacrifice due to the fact that it is not a question simply of his reputation, but that of his family and his community. Proctor might not be an exemplar in all matters, however he might not act as a daddy to his children if he were to so readily give up his name to maintain himself.

The second question of this act is whether it is a worse sin to lie to save oneself or to allow oneself to die. This is the satisfaction of the theme of self-preservation that has actually recurred throughout the book. While Hale states that God damns a phony less than a person who tosses his life away, Elizabeth calls this the devil’s argument. Miller seems to support Elizabeth’s position, for it is by providing self-preserving lies that Tituba and Sarah Good perpetuated the witch hunts.

Elizabeth Proctor functions as the moral conscience in this act of The Crucible. It is she who puts forth the most prominent arguments for Proctor accepting his own death, regardless of her mentioned wish that she desires her spouse to remain alive. This could be translated as another manifestation of Elizabeth’s cold nature, for she stays seemingly more concerned about abstract ethical principles than her spouse’s life; Danforth even concerns whether Elizabeth has any tenderness for her hubby at all. Elizabeth is not to be played as a cold character, however. She refuses to affect her spouse’s decision regardless of her own desires– he has earned her regard as a free moral agent, and she loves him even more for his capability to make the right choice on his own.

The settlements in between Proctor and Danforth worrying his confession show the theme of public versus personal redemption. Proctor firmly insists that his repentance remain private, while Danforth requires a public declaration of guilt and an additional condemnation of other witches. It is this crucial element that permits Proctor to accept his martyrdom when he chooses to compromise himself to stop the perpetuation of the witchcraft accusations. Proctor thus answers his own concern about martyrdom, ending his life with an action that remains indisputably worthy disagreement the sins he has actually formerly committed. He dies with his own name intact since, unlike numerous others in front of the Salem court and your house Un-American Activities Committee, he refused to call names.

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