When John Proctor comes to court in the Act III of The Crucible by Arthur Miller, his purpose is to denounce the girls and their fakery and to set his wife free. He has three weapons that he plans to use in the court to prove the falsity of the claims against all of those who have been imprisoned.
His first plan is to relate to the court Abigail’s admission to him that there is no witchcraft and that Betty Parris was faking her trances. Proctor’s admission will debunk Abigail in the eyes of the court and discredit the other girls since she is their leader.
In addition, he has enticed Mary Warren to give her testimony that she and the other girls have not been witched and have been pretending when they go into their spells. Finally, Proctor plans on admitting that he and Abigail had an affair which will establish that she holds a grudge against Elizabeth Proctor for turning her out of Proctor’s house.
All of his weapons fail, particularly when Elizabeth denies that John had an affair with Abigail just after Proctor had admitted it. Proctor’s mistake was in thinking that this was a true court looking for guilt or innocence or the truth.
He intends to take the place of his wife with his own guilt and in doing so bring down Abigail as well. What he discovers is a court that has already hanged people and signed death warrants for others. If they back down now, it will subject the judges and the court to ridicule. In the course of the chaos during Proctor’s and Mary Warren’s testimony, Reverend Hale finally begins to admit that these are ridiculous accusations, brought about by a group of foolish, school girls.
Rev. Hale begins to try to defend Proctor, aware that he is telling the truth. The coup de grace for Proctor happens when he tries to touch Mary Warren and she accuses him of witchcraft which ends any possibility of the court listening to him. Danforth issues an arrest warrant for Proctor and asks Proctor is he will confess. Proctor announces that he believes that God is dead which will of course damn him before the court.
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 be fraud – God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!
In this quotation, Proctor’s guilt that he has let his family down issues forth. Obviously, Proctor is the better man than all of the court. He is more honest and moral. Danforth cares not for the truth but rather for the reputation of his court.
Proctor places himself on an even par with Danforth and the court. He cannot forgive himself for the harm that he has done to Elizabeth. Proctor says that he has hesitated to come to court and tell the truth.
Now, Proctor knows that all of the judges know that he is telling the truth, and they are afraid to admit it. Proctor denounces them and states that In their hearts, they know the truth and will not give up to it because the devil lives within them. He damns himself and the court saying that they will be punished together in hell for their actions.