Act 4 - pg.120 Proctor: I want my life. (till) pg.121 Danforth: I say, will you confess yourself, Goody Nurse?Briefly explain the events taking place in Act 4 (pages 120 to 121) & the...

Act 4 - pg.120 Proctor: I want my life.

(till)

pg.121 Danforth: I say, will you confess yourself, Goody Nurse?

Briefly explain the events taking place in Act 4 (pages 120 to 121) & the significance of what is happening.

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auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yup, this is, indeed, a spiritual crisis for John Proctor.  He is not guilty of the crimes of which he's accused, but he does feel as if he's a guilty sinner for other things.  To that extent, because he's already a sinner in the eyes of God and man, Proctor is at first willing to sign his name to a lie.

Once Danforth starts pressing him to give up the names of others--whom Proctor certainly knows to be innocent--and is going to place his signed confession on the church door, Proctor realizes he's losing more than his already-condemned soul.  He's losing his good name.  Once he understands he can once again stand tall by denouncing his confession, he has in essence confessed and found some sense of forgiveness and peace with God. 

These Puritans were all about public confessions and punishments, while Proctor's wrestling of the soul was internal--and not at all what Danforth was concerned about here. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is, to me, the climax of the play.  In this part that you mention, John Proctor is having to confront his major dilemma.  He has to decide to live or die.

He is being offerred the chance to confess (falsely) or to die.  At the beginning of the part that you are asking about, he has decided that he wants to live.  But then he starts to waver.  He is appalled when Danforth starts to make a big deal about him confessing.  He does not want to sign the confession or make it public.

In this part of the play, John is struggling with his conscience.  He does not want to die, but he also does not want to sign a false statement.  He does not want to sign something that will make it seem as if witchcraft is really happening and that other people are truly guilty of having done something wrong.

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