Summarize the conflict John Proctor faces in Act IV of The Crucible. How does he resolve this conflict?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Proctor's conflict in act 4 is that between his humanity and his social role as a good Christian man. John has a fundamental sense of decency, but it's one that's profoundly at odds with his place in the community. He's spent most of the play trying desperately trying to reconcile the two sides to himself, but without success. It's only in act 4 that he's finally forced to make an existential choice: he's prepared to confess his involvement in witchcraft. By doing so, he's sacrificing his humanity, his sense of right and wrong, to save the standing of his family name in the wider community.

But when he discovers that the confession will be made public for all to see, he recants. Making a confession wouldn't have been able to save his family's good name, after all. They can have his soul, but not the name of his family, his ancestors, and the generations still to come. John Proctor makes his final stand, and the conflict is finally resolved, once and for all.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Proctor's conflict involves man vs. self.  He must decide what is more important - his reputation or his life.  Danforth wants him to confess to witchcraft in order to be released from prison.  Proctor is willing to this.  However, when it is explained to him that he must sign a confession, Proctor hesitates.  To do so would be to suggest to the townspeople and others that he really was involved.  To confess verbally to people who know he is lying is one thing; to willingly ruin his reputation in the whole community is another.  Proctor can not do this, particularly when he sees that his confession will be used to convince others to untruthfully confess as well.  Honesty and integrity have become too important.  He tears up the confession and goes willingly to the gallows.

will-dogg | Student

Proctor realises that it is not worth it to lie and Arthur Miller emphasises that it is better to forfeit one's life for principles than to avoid conflict by agreeing to what is a lie. There is also interpersonal conflict between Proctor and Danforth due to Proctor's spite he'd rather allow the persecutors feel the weight of guilt for hanging an innocent man. Proctor's desire to preserve his good name by tearing the confession gives him the courage to die heroically and his goodness and honesty lost during his affair with Abigail are regained. Throughout the text we see Proctor grow as an individual thinker who does not hesitate to question the uniform theocratical society of Salem.