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In "The Crucible", what does Hale attribute Proctor's willingness to hang...

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samchan | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 21, 2008 at 1:01 PM via web

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In "The Crucible", what does Hale attribute Proctor's willingness to hang to?

What does Elizabeth attribute Proctor's willingness to hang to?

What did John do to the paper?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 21, 2008 at 3:20 PM (Answer #1)

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Hale believes that Proctor is willing to hang because of pride.  In a last ditch attempt to save the man, Hale entreats Elizabeth Proctor to "go to him...it is pride...it is vanity...what profit him to bleed...shall the dust praise him...shall the worms declare his truth?"

Elizabeth, however, understands that it is more than pride that makes Proctor willing to hang - it is self-respect.  John Proctor might compromise himself to make a false confession to save his life, but he will not sign his name to a written affidavit.  When asked why he will not sign, he says, "because it is my name...because I cannot have another in my life...how may I live without my name...I have given you my soul, leave me my name!"  Elizabeth knows that John is tormented by his weakness in confessing a lie, and that when he ultimately finds the strength not to sign his confession, he is at peace with himself.  As he tears and crumples the paper containing the damning words, he "weep(s) in fury, but (stands) erect, declaring with almost a sense of relief, "now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor".  Though Elizabeth is terrified, and at the point of collapse as her husband goes to the gallows, she will not stop him, because she knows he cannot live without respecting himself.  She cries, "He have his goodness now...God forbid I take it from him!" (Act IV, Scene 3).

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