In Act IV of The Crucible, why does Reverend Parris want to delay the executions?

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In Act IV, we see a very different Salem from the beginning of the play.  As the act begins, we learn that on this day John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, and Martha Corey are to be executed.  Reverend Parris, who in the previous act was quick to point the finger and condemn the accused as witches has changed his plea.  Now, after finding a note and dagger on his front door, he believes that the courts would be wise to wait to execute these even if just for a little while. Parris realizes that the people are no longer with him, and this causes to fear for his safety.  If the courts could get someone to confess, people may believe there are witches again.  Even better, if the courts can get John Proctor to confess, people will be even more inclined to believe in the cause again. He tells the court-

It is a great service, sir—it is a weighty name, it will strike the village that he confess. I beg you, let him sign it. The sun is up, Excellency!


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