What is a form of symbolism in acts 3 & 4 of The Crucible?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To me, the biggest form of symbolism you will find in the final acts of this excellent play is at the very end of the play, when John Proctor "confesses" and signs a testimony, which says that he practised witchcraft. What is interesting about this testimony is that when he signs his confession, Proctor then snatches it away from Danforth. Protor says that he has signed the confession, and they have seen him sign it, and therefore they have no need to take the paper away with them. His sense of honour means that he does not want his friends and family to know he has been weak on the day when others will have been hanged. Note how he argues how symbolically significant this act of signing is:

I have confessed myself! Is there no good penitence but it be public? God does not need my name nailed upon the church! God sees my name; God knows how black my sins are! It is enough!

However, in perhaps one of the most poignant moments of the entire play, Proctor explains why his "name" is so important to him, and thus shows us how symbolically important this signed testimony is:

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!

Thus Proctor tears the confession and seals his fate, and thus saves his character and his "name". Notice how the stage directions describe him as "weeping in fury, but erect" when he destroys his testimony, indicating that he has opted for a path that paradoxically restores his character whilst at the same time losing his life.

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