At the end of act 3, what does John Proctor's quote try to say to the audience? Proctor [laughs insanely, then]: A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the 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 quail 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!

John's outburst at the end of Act III tries to tell the audience that what Danforth is doing is an act of evil that can only lead to his eternal damnation. John has accepted his own sins of adultery and lying and will leave his judgment to God. He challenges Danforth, and everyone who can hear him, to admit to their own deceptive acts.

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John Proctor has come to a point in his persecution that he knows the time for pretense has ended. He knows that he is a sinner; he has committed adultery and lied about it. And in his reluctance to reveal his crime to the theocratic authority, he has had to conceal the fact that he knows what Abigail and the girls were doing in the forest. He also knows that Abigail has a compelling reason to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of practicing witchcraft. His deception has caused Elizabeth to feel that she had to lie in court to cover for him.

At this point in the play, with his reputation ruined and his wife guilty of a sin and a crime, John feels that he has little left to lose. He verbally attacks the judge. He accuses Danforth of knowing that the charges of witchcraft against many of Salem's most pious and powerful are false. Moreover, John means to say that Danforth is as guilty as he himself is of promoting a deception. John believes that Danforth's sin is as great as—or greater than—his...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 21, 2020