One of the central paradoxes in Act III of The Crucible is that John Proctor must admit to a real crime to be found not guilty of an imaginary crime. John is part of the reason for Abigail William’s entire creation of the witch trial hysteria—she wants to kill his wife Elizabeth so that the two of them can be together. John and Abigail committed adultery; he was having an affair while she was the serving-girl in his household.
John attempts to bring justice to the court—which has condemned multiple people to death. He has Mary Warren confess that she was faking everything, then Giles Corey brings testimony against the Putnams, and Francis Nurse brings a signed deposition that shows support for Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor being innocent God-fearing women. However, all of their evidence is questioned, and Giles is arrested. John, fearing that all will be lost, confesses to adultery to save people’s lives,
Proctor, trembling, his life collapsing about him : I have known her,...
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