Why does Danforth want Proctor to see Elizabeth by the final act of The Crucible?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In act 4, Deputy Governor Danforth allows Elizabeth to visit John in prison in hopes that she will be able to make him offer a confession. Danforth understands that the community holds John Proctor in high regard and will probably rebel if he were to be publicly executed. Danforth is...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

In act 4, Deputy Governor Danforth allows Elizabeth to visit John in prison in hopes that she will be able to make him offer a confession. Danforth understands that the community holds John Proctor in high regard and will probably rebel if he were to be publicly executed. Danforth is also aware that if a man like John Proctor were to offer a confession by testifying that he was involved in witchcraft, Proctor's confession would solidify their proceedings and support Salem's court. Danforth knows that Elizabeth is pregnant and believes that her presence and condition will sway John Proctor's decision. He hopes that John's will to live and raise his children will motivate him into offering a false confession. However, John Proctor tears his signed confession and accepts his fate in an attempt to undermine the corrupt court and atone for his sins. Essentially, Danforth's plan backfires as Elizabeth supports her husband's decision to become a martyr.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Eilzabeth is pregnant by this point in the story. It is only possible that this is John's baby. Even though John and Elizabeth's relationship has been rocky, having a baby together should be a joyous opportunity for them. This very information might not only give John a reason to live for himself, but a hope to live for two others: Elizabeth and the baby.

Danforth is hoping that this information can manipulate John into a plea. He wants to see John admit to witchcraft just to guarantee that John can continue to live. What Danforth does not realize is John's strength of character. In fact, I don't think John realized how strong he is. John ultimately makes a decision in spite of the fact that Elizabeth is having a baby, but it was certainly a position worth Danforth's time to have John consider. Any father would want to be there for his child especially when a previous infidelity had inhibited his relationship with the woman he loves.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team