What is the thematic significance of the ending in The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the most significant elements about the ending of Miller's drama is the call for political dissent.  Proctor stands up for his "name" at the end of the drama, flying directly in the face of the accepted and established political order.  He refuses to give his consent for them to use his name as part of the political masquerade.  While he initially gives in, his vehement defense of his name at the end, to the point of death, reflects how Miller sees the need for the body politic to voice discontent when it perceives its wishes are not being met by those in the position of power.  Miller has constructed political reality in the drama to be concerned with the moment, a contingent state in which political leaders govern for the present and not without any vision or embracing notion of the future.  The ending is one in which Proctor speaks for this future.  Proctor speaks about how his children will look at him and how he will be viewed.  Proctor speaks a vision that is in direct opposition to the political establishment of what is in Salem at the moment.  In this, Miller seems to be suggesting that political dissent in appealing to what should be is the only appropriate response when it is evident that a political order is manipulating the present for their own exercise of power.  It is here where the ending of the drama holds thematic significance and relevance.