Student Question

What internal conflict does John face when considering a false confession in The Crucible?

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In “The Crucible,” John Proctor struggles with his decision to confess to witchcraft.  His internal conflict is whether to save his life and lose his good name and honor, or to die with his friends and remain honorable.  John’s initial justification for his false confession is that he is not a saint.  He wants to live, and because he has sinned in the past, he has convinced himself that lying to save his own life is just another sin.  “God in Heaven, what is John Proctor, what is John Proctor? He moves as an animal, and a fury is riding in him, a tantalized search. I think it is honest, I think so; I am no saint. As though she had denied this he calls angrily at her: Let Rebecca go like a saint; for me it is fraud!” (Act IV).  Through his discussion with his wife, he realizes that he is forgiven and that she no longer judges him.  Elizabeth’s belief that John is a good man allows him to tear up his confession and refuse to compromise his standards.  “His breast heaving, his eyes staring, Proctor tears the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury, but erect” (Act IV).  Proctor resolves his inner conflict by choosing to keep his good name and refusing to admit to practicing witchcraft.

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