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Discuss the meaning of the following Proctor quote:  "I can. And here is your first...

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shanks25 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 3, 2011 at 4:13 PM via web

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Discuss the meaning of the following Proctor quote:  "I can. And here is your first marvel that I can. You have made your magic now, for now i do think i do see some shred of goodness in John Proctor."

 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 3, 2011 at 7:18 PM (Answer #1)

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Proctor's quote is at a point where he has fully turned the corner from what he was at the start of the play to what he becomes at its end.  He stands in the middle of several polarities and this call for a "shred of goodness" is his way of reconciling all of them.  He is being forced by Danforth to sign and make public his confession.  He is ashamed of what he has done when Rebecca Nurse sees how he has abandoned his original position. He is convinced that while he might wish to save his life in order to be a business husband, his wife has lost respect for him for his decision.  Finally, he has Hale trying to convince him that a small lie in order to save his life is better than death.  In the end, Proctor snaps and recognizes that it is better to die with honor than live with shame.  For the entire play, Proctor has been searching for this type of confidence and sense of assurance with self.  He has not been able to find this type of ground.  At the end when Proctor gives his speech about his "name," it is a moment where he has finally found what he considered to be important.  Proctor has finally found his voice.  The quote in question is the follow up to this speech and this is where he has told Hale that the Reverend has performed a "miracle."  Proctor has finally found his voice and his sense of goodness.  In this, Proctor tells Hale that he has performed "magic" in that he finally has discovered his identity, something that had been lacking throughout the play.

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