Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 10th gradeA+, December 1996

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'The Crucible- Act Four'

The scene in Act Four of The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, defines the

characterization, themes, and conflicts of the play. The scene takes place in a

court dungeon where John Proctor, is confronted by his wife Elizabeth for the

first time in many months. The couple is imprisoned on having been falsely

convicted of practicing witchcraft. While Elizabeth has been held with the

rest of the members of the community, John has been isolated in a dark,

dingy, dungeon. He is to be hung for his 'crimes' the very next morning. The

court officials send Elizabeth in to convince John to confess in writing that

the accusations against him are true and that the verdict is just.

The conversation that takes place between Proctor and Elizabeth is

'above sorrow, beyond it.' They are bewildered by the hatred against them.

They know they have done nothing, and are falsely accused.

Yet, even with

the glum atmosphere created by the conversation, the reader detects a

glimmer of optimism, determination, and hope in Proctor's voice. The reader

feels that he will fight till the end. 'It is hard to give a lie to dogs.', he says.

Proctor continually wavers in his decision whether to confess to this

outright lie, or to spite the evil and be hung in martyrdom. Up to this point in

time, the court officials have no definitive proof that any witchcraft has

actually been practiced. Innocent people are being hung only on account of

the testimony given by one young girl. Proctor realizes that by confessing, he

will mar the memory of the many who have thus far been killed without

confirming the false accusations. These dead would not sign their names

falsely just to spare their own life. How could Proctor disrespect...