The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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In act 4, what motivation does Proctor have for confessing? At the same time, why does he see his confession as deeply ironic?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John Proctor is motivated to confess to participating in witchcraft in act four in order to save his life. Although Proctor desires to undermine the corrupt court and save the innocent citizens falsely accused of witchcraft, he fears for his life and does not want to pretend that he is as righteous as Rebecca Nurse, who refuses to capitulate with the court and plans on dying a martyr. Proctor acknowledges that he is a sinner and even tells Elizabeth,

"I think it is honest, I think so; I am no saint...Let Rebecca go like a saint; for me it is fraud!" (Miller, 139).

Elizabeth responds by saying that she will not judge John regardless of whether or not he chooses to falsely confess to witchcraft. In addition to saving his own life, John is also motivated to confess in order to see his sons grow and raise his children. John desires to live a full life and support his family.

John's confession is ironic because he must lie in order to save his life. If John were to tell the truth, he would be...

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Edith Sykes eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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