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At the end of Act III, what does John Proctor's quote try to say to the...

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someonehelpme... | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted August 6, 2011 at 6:56 PM via web

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At the end of Act III, what does John Proctor's quote try to say to the audience?

Proctor [laughs insanely, then]: A fire, a fire is burning! I hearthe boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you guail now when you know in all your black hearts that this will be fraud - God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!

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

Posted August 7, 2011 at 1:43 AM (Answer #1)

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Proctor's closing to Act III says a couple of things to the audience. The first and most essential is that Proctor is reaching a point where his statement of dissent cannot be quelled.  For a period of time, Proctor was quite content with not saying anything and allowing what was going on to continue without spoken opposition.  Given the hypocrisy he saw in the courtroom and the fact that innocent people were being railroaded by a system that professes truth but actually operates in opposite, Proctor cannot be silent.  Another element that is coming forth to the audience is the idea that Proctor is now actively embracing self- destruction.  Proctor tried for a period to try to keep some level of protection regarding his interests.  However, as the net of inclusion in the accusations was widened, Proctor found it more difficult to remain distinct.  He protests in the courtroom, stands against Parris, confesses to lechery, nearly chokes the life out of Abigail, and then the declaration that "God damns our kind."  There is a gradual progression of self- destruction, uncontrollable in its timbre and reflective to the audience that Proctor is enduring something awful, where death is going to be present itself.  Finally, I think that Proctor's statement about religion cannot avoided.  Proctor has no problem indicting the institution of religion that is being practiced in Salem.  In the implication that hypocrisy will end up being punished, Proctor makes a statement that the nature of organized religion and the legal system in Salem is one where there is hypocrisy, something that Proctor is convinced will be brought up and will be proven in some form.  Regardless of the damage it does to Proctor, it is going to be demonstrated and this is something that the audience is told through his closing.

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