The Crucible Act 4 Summary And Analysis
During the fall, Hathorne and Danforth visit Parris in jail. They want to know the reason behind Hale’s return to Salem. Parris promises them that the reverend has imprisoned them in the holdout to pressure them into a confession and avoid being sent to the gallows. Furthermore, he informs them about Mercy and Abigail’s escape from Salem upon robbing him. A sorrowful Hale begs for the pardon of the prisoners since they will not confess. However, Danforth argues that pardons or delaying prosecutions will cast doubt on the guilt of the remaining prisoners as well as those who have been executed. Hale issues them a warning that they are risking potential rebellion. Due to the trials, many families have been neglected because the breadwinners had to attend court sessions or are incarcerated. Everybody is now dreadful of being charged in court with witchcraft and rumors of an impending revolt in Andover.
Danforth is hopeful that Elizabeth can convince Proctor to confess. She agrees to speak with her husband. Elizabeth and Proctor are then left alone in the room. Elizabeth informs proctor of the 100 people that have admitted to partaking in witchcraft. She also tells him that Giles got killed though being squeezed to death by huge stones but never got a chance to plead his case. Denying the charges would have led to his hanging and would surrender his possessions. He refused to plea so that his sons could inherit his farm.
Proctor then asks his wife Elizabeth if she is content with him confessing. He claims he is holding out due to resentment since he desires his accusers to experience the guilt of witnessing his hanging when fully aware of his innocence. After fighting his conscience for a while, Proctor gives in to the request. Danforth and Hathorne are now ecstatic, and Cheever gets a pen, paper, and ink to record the confession. However, Proctor is curious about the need to write it. Danforth then says it shall be hanged on the church entrance.
At first, Proctor is hesitant to sign the confession blaming that there are enough witnesses to his confessions. However, he signs his name under duress then snatched the paper from Danforth who needs the confession as evidence that Proctor practices witchcraft. Proctor refuses to have his name on the church door & after an argument with the magistrates, he tears the confession and disowns it. Danforth then summons Herrick to lead proctor and the other prisoners into the gallows. Parris and Hale beg Elizabeth to protest with Proctor. However, she declines to dissuade him from what he believes is right.
Shortly afterward, Parris gets voted out of office. He decides to leave Salem for good. It is rumored that Abigail moved to Boston and became a prostitute. A few years after Proctor’s hanging, Elizabeth remarries. In 1712, the condemned have their excommunications withdrawn. Meanwhile, the farms once owned by the executed remain vacant and fallow for many years.
A Well-Written Analysis of the Act
Many days have gone by, and the situation in Massachusetts is getting worse. This only enhances Hathorne and Danforth’s insecurities. They cannot and do not want to admit their mistake. They signed the death warrants issued to the 19 convicts in order to force the remaining prisoners to confess, thus saving them from unfair rulings. Danforth cannot forgive the prisoners despite Hale’s appeals and his doubt about their crimes. He wants to avoid any doubts on the legitimacy of the execution of the 12 previously sentenced & on the impending execution of the seven remaining convicts. According to the jury, it would be unfair to the 12 previously hanged convicts if the seven remaining ones are forgiven. Danforth supports a strange, abstract understanding of equality over the logical reality of possible innocence.
The most paramount issue for the court officials is to preserve the integrity of the court as well as their reputations. They do not care about what is right or wrong. Being an institution operating under a theocracy, the court is representative of divinity or according to the secular, justice. Admitting to making 12 wrongful executions would be like questioning the divine justice and the fundamental tenets of human life as well as the state. The court’s integrity would be destroyed, and all the court officials would be disgraced in the process. Hathorne and Danforth would thus maintain the facade of justice that put Salem’s political and religious order in jeopardy.
How Hathorne and Danforth treated, Proctor, showcases an obsessive desire to preserve the illusion of order as well as to justify their deeds in addition to a pretentious attitude about truthfulness. This was also the general mentality of the theocratic legal and governance system of the Puritan society in Salem. They need Proctor to put his signature on a confession admitting his indulgence in witchcraft. This would be like admitting he witnessed the 6 other prisoners in the devil’s company and confirms the findings of the court. Tthey aim to exploit Proctor’s reputation for being honest so as to support their claims of conducting themselves in a just manner.
By refusing to partake in the ritual transfer of sins that have been the hallmark of the play, i.e., identifying other witches, Proctor has separated himself from all the other accused. He intends not to dishonor the other prisoners’ resolutions to stand their ground. He is fixated on protecting his reputation and the potential of it being destroyed in case he signs the admission. This also prevented him from giving testimony against Abigail, which resulted in an undesirable outcome. However, he has now come to understand the meaning of a good reputation fully. Therefore, by defending his reputation, in the form of refusing to sign the confession, he was able to gain the courage to die a heroic death. The honesty and goodness he lost during the illicit affair with Abigail have all been regained.