Discuss the meaning of the following Proctor quote:  "I can. And here is your first marvel that I can. You have made your magic now, for now i do think i do see some shred of goodness in John...

Discuss the meaning of the following Proctor quote:  "I can. And here is your first marvel that I can. You have made your magic now, for now i do think i do see some shred of goodness in John Proctor."

 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Proctor's quote is at a point where he has fully turned the corner from what he was at the start of the play to what he becomes at its end.  He stands in the middle of several polarities and this call for a "shred of goodness" is his way of reconciling all of them.  He is being forced by Danforth to sign and make public his confession.  He is ashamed of what he has done when Rebecca Nurse sees how he has abandoned his original position. He is convinced that while he might wish to save his life in order to be a business husband, his wife has lost respect for him for his decision.  Finally, he has Hale trying to convince him that a small lie in order to save his life is better than death.  In the end, Proctor snaps and recognizes that it is better to die with honor than live with shame.  For the entire play, Proctor has been searching for this type of confidence and sense of assurance with self.  He has not been able to find this type of ground.  At the end when Proctor gives his speech about his "name," it is a moment where he has finally found what he considered to be important.  Proctor has finally found his voice.  The quote in question is the follow up to this speech and this is where he has told Hale that the Reverend has performed a "miracle."  Proctor has finally found his voice and his sense of goodness.  In this, Proctor tells Hale that he has performed "magic" in that he finally has discovered his identity, something that had been lacking throughout the play.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act Four, John Proctor falsely admits to colluding with the Devil and being involved in witchcraft. However, Deputy Governor Danforth insists that Proctor sign his confession for the town to see. Proctor reluctantly signs but refuses to hand the paper over to Danforth. John Proctor knows that by giving Danforth his confession, he is selling out his righteous friends, who have been falsely accused and arrested. Proctor then says that he refuses to sign his name to a lie before tearing his confession up in front of Danforth. When Hale yells to John that he cannot give his life away, Proctor replies by saying,

"I can. And there’s your first marvel, that I can. You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor" (Miller, 105).

Throughout the entire play, John Proctor is overwhelmed by guilt and has yet to redeem himself for concealing his affair and hesitating to expose Abigail. By challenging the court and becoming a martyr, John Proctor finds redemption and atones for his sins. He makes the righteous, honorable decision to accept his fate in order to save the reputations of the falsely accused, which will create further tension between the community and the court. The "shred of goodness" that John Proctor recognizes in himself is the dignity and character to die in order to challenge the corrupt Salem court.

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The Crucible

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