Why did John Proctor disclose his affair with Abigail?

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By this stage in the play John's getting pretty desperate. The way things are going both he and his wife Elizabeth are heading for the gallows. So John somehow has to undermine Abigail's credibility as an accuser. Getting Mary Warren to spill the beans didn't work so he openly admits to having had an affair with Abby.

John's confession is supposed to provide the court with a rationale for Abby's making all these false accusations. She's a scorned woman who wants revenge. In Puritan communities at that time there was a double standard when it came to adultery. Although it takes two to tango, as it were, the woman involved was always blamed for any affair, and would be labelled a "scarlet woman," or a "temptress." John knows this, which is why he reveals the affair.

Unfortunately for John, his gameplay fails miserably. Elizabeth, thinking that she's protecting her husband's reputation, denies that such an affair ever took place. Unwittingly, she's just made John look like a complete liar and fantasist in front of the whole court.

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I assume that you are talking about the time that John Proctor admits his affair in public (in Act III) and not whenever he admitted it to his wife (not actually seen in the play).

If that is what you are asking about, he is going to disclose it mainly to get his wife and others out of being accused of being witches.  He wants the court to know why Abigail has been doing the things that she has done.

John's attempt to be honest backfires when his wife does not back him up -- she's trying to save his reputation but ends up hurting him instead.

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