I like the conclusion Arthur Miller writes for this play. It reminds me that principles, love, and moral conviction are stronger than any prison cell or courtroom proceeding.
Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought so, as the the trials ended shortly after those final hangings and those in prison were released. The picture of innocent people willing to die rather than sell their souls for a lie is a powerful one, and I'm confident it was a motivating force in closing this awful chapter in Salem's history.
I'm generally not a fan of movies made from these kinds of great books; however, this movie added a touch I thought was powerful--as the nooses were placed around their necks, they began to say the Lord's Prayer. One by one their voices stopped as they were hung. The echo of their prayer lingered in the silence of the crowd.
The only more satisfying ending I can think of is having the court not only pardon the accused but hold the accusers, both the overt (Abigail and others) and the covert (Putnam and Parris), accountable for their actions. The town, now humbled and disgraced, would no longer see itself as a place of spiritual superiority but as a town full of sinners in need of saving.
I actually think that the conclusion offered is a very good one. The fact that Proctor has gained moral stature at the end of the play might be a powerful statement of resistance. Proctor realizes that he will not live and he will be condemned to die. While he is offered by Danforth a way to live, a way to escape, Proctor does not take the path of less resistance. The conclusion of the play strikes a wonderful note of resistance and appeal to a moral fiber that the others of Salem have not achieved. Those who have succumbed to conformity and have sacrificed their names and others' identities have not achieved the moral stature of Proctor and his wife, Elizabeth.
The story reminds its readers of an ugly blemish on human history. It reminds us that man is not perfect, and that we can make mistakes. However, even with these mistakes, we can cleanse ourselves and purify ourselves by making what is wrong right. The sufferings become to the sufferer like a crucible