What "confession" did Elizabeth make to John in Act 4 of The Crucible?

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thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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In the crucible, the court realized that what they were doing was a mistake. They were condemning innocent people to death based on lies told by the girls. Paris brought news that Abigail was gone and that she stole some of his money. These issues rested heavily on those who were falsely accusing the people of witchcraft. However, Mr. Danforth sought to protect the court’s reputation and so could not free the innocent people in spite of knowing the truth.

They summoned Elizabeth to convince her husband, John, to confess to witchcraft. When the couple met, John found out some of the people had already confessed. However, some of his friends refused to comply. He sought his wife’s opinion on whether he should confess to the fake charges against him. He blamed himself for being unfaithful to Elizabeth and even sought her forgiveness. It was at that moment that Elizabeth presented a confession of her own. She blamed herself for pushing John into lechery and admitted to not providing a loving and caring environment for her husband.

Elizabeth: I have sins of my own to count. It needs a cold wife
to prompt lechery.

Elizabeth: You take my sins upon you, John -
Proctor, in agony: No, I take my own, my own!
Elizabeth: John, I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me! Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should say my love. It were a cold house I kept! In fright, she swerves, as Hathorne enters.

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jilllessa's profile pic

jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The confession that Elizabeth makes to John in Act IV is that she realizes that she herself played some role in the marital difficulties that led John to commit adultery with Abigail.  She states that "it needs a cold wife to prompt lechery.." and continues that

I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me! Suspicion kissed you when I did.  I never knew how I should say my love. It were a cold house I kept.  (Act IV scene 2)

In this admission Elizabeth has shown great growth in character and is no longer the suspicious fragile woman she once was.

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