John considers confessing to witchcraft.  What is he struggling with?  How does he initially justify giving a false confession?  How does his discussion with his wife affect the resolution of...

John considers confessing to witchcraft.  What is he struggling with?  How does he initially justify giving a false confession?  How does his discussion with his wife affect the resolution of his internal conflict?

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lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In “The Crucible,” John Proctor struggles with his decision to confess to witchcraft.  His internal conflict is whether to save his life and lose his good name and honor, or to die with his friends and remain honorable.  John’s initial justification for his false confession is that he is not a saint.  He wants to live, and because he has sinned in the past, he has convinced himself that lying to save his own life is just another sin.  “God in Heaven, what is John Proctor, what is John Proctor? He moves as an animal, and a fury is riding in him, a tantalized search. I think it is honest, I think so; I am no saint. As though she had denied this he calls angrily at her: Let Rebecca go like a saint; for me it is fraud!” (Act IV).  Through his discussion with his wife, he realizes that he is forgiven and that she no longer judges him.  Elizabeth’s belief that John is a good man allows him to tear up his confession and refuse to compromise his standards.  “His breast heaving, his eyes staring, Proctor tears the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury, but erect” (Act IV).  Proctor resolves his inner conflict by choosing to keep his good name and refusing to admit to practicing witchcraft.

china46307 | Student

    John Proctor, protagonist of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, is a dynamic character struggling with the denigration of the world around him and his own personal demons. He recognizes the hypocrisy of the courts, seen most notably at the end of Act III when he cries out, “God is dead!” and voices both his and Danforth’s moral shortcomings. Giving a false confession to a “false” or, at least, immoral judge seems justified. But internally, Proctor struggles with his own heart and the judgment he makes about himself. An admitted lecher, Proctor battles with finding any goodness in himself. As he tells Elizabeth, he cannot “mount the gibbet like a saint” because he is not that man. He struggles with what a false confession will mean for his children, his legacy.  Proctor struggles with how he sees himself, a man not worthy of a dignified, honest death because he is not a dignified, honest man. He knows, because of his sins, he should not mount the scaffold with the saint-like Rebecca Nurse and it is not until his wife declares there be no goodness in the world like John Proctor that he can see himself having a shred of goodness. He finally sees himself reflected in her eyes and finds the strength necessary to forgive himself and thus, condemn himself to death.

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The Crucible

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