Act IV - Year11EnglishSSC

The Crucible
Students will understand the ending of the
novel and build an interpretation of the
Act IV
Three main sections:
Community Breakdown
Ideas from Act IV
• These events can be related to themes:
• Community Breakdown: Power: struggle for
the truth and control
• Confessions: Pride: holding onto respect of
• Goodness: Good vs Evil: Good finally wins
• Sarah and Tituba gone mad they believe
the Devil is coming to take them to
• Herrick is drunk perhaps because of the trial
and executions
• Town has changed
• Hale: There are orphans wandering from
house to house; abandoned cattle below
the highroads, the stink of rotting crops
hangs everywhere, and no man knows
when the harlots’ cry will end his life’ pg. 114
• Hale calls the girls ‘harlots’ showing his
disrespect of them. He speaks of the fear
and paranoia that is now within the town
because of the false confessions.
• The Truth or what ones admits as truth equals
• Also relating to pride as a confession means
upholding reputation of Danforth and the court
but blackening John Proctor and other
• Everyone wants a confession for different
reason. What are they?
• Hale
• Danforth
• Herrick
• Elizabeth Proctor
Power Struggle
• Danforth is trying to maintain control of the
• Danforth and Herrick discuss Hale’s return.
Danforth forbids him from being there at all.
• Herrick: Why, Mr Parris command me, sir. I
cannot deny him. Pg. 109
o Showing that Parris has had a change of
heart now too and that he is trying to do
some goodness.
• Herrick: I think, sometimes, the man has a mad
look these days. Pg 109
• Parris: Rebecca Nurse is no Bridget that lived
three year with Bishop before she married him.
John Proctor is not Isaac Ward that drank his
family to ruin pg. 111
o Parris is trying to explain that the deaths of
these people without confession will cause
doubt amongst the people of the town. As
they have been ‘good Christians’ it is harder
to believe they worked with the devil with no
confession. Appealing to Danforth’s pride?
• Parris: This way, unconfessed and claiming
innocence, doubts are multiplied, many
honest people will weep for them and out
good purpose is lost in their tears. Pg. 112
• The court needs to maintain power now
given that Andover has overthrown the
court. They need to be able to convince the
community that they are still doing the
‘good and right’ thing.
• Danforth: Postponement now speaks a
floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must
cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till
• Danforth is conscious of how he will appear and
what people will think of him. We can infer from
this that he is perhaps aware of the false claims
but will not back down because of his pride.
• Danforth: Proctor, you mistake me, I am not
empowered to trade your life for a lie. Pg. 122
Goodness: Hale’s
• Hale: Life, woman, life is God’s most precious
gist; now principle, however, glorious, may
justify the taking of it.
• Hale: God damns a liar less that he that throws
his life away for pride.
• Hale is trying to convince Elizabeth that there is
pride – a sin – in trying to uphold the truth as no
one will listen.
• Elizabeth: I think that be the Devil’s argument
• Elizabeth can see that lying would be a sin and
that is an bad and evil thing to do.
• Elizabeth describes Rebecca Nurse and
having ‘one foot in Heaven now; naught
may hurt her more’ pg. 115
• This explains that even though not
confessing/lying means death, Rebecca
can be comforted by God that she is doing
what is ‘right’ and true/honest.
• Rebecca Nurse’s idea of ‘goodness’ and
Hale’s differs. How?
John Proctor: Evil?
• Proctor: I cannot mount the gibbet like a
saint. It is a fraud. I am not that man. My
honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good
man. Nothings spoiled by giving them this lie
that we not rotten long before. Pg. 118
• He believes he is already going to hell ‘It is
pretence for me, a vanity that will not blind
God nor keep my children out of the wind.’
pg. 119
Proctor: holding onto
• He will not confess to seeing Rebecca Nurse
with the devil. But because everyone else has
implicated someone else his confession must
do the same.
• He will not blacken his name any further, he
will not let his sins affect the lives of others. This
is what happened with his affair with Abigail
that created this evil.
• Proctor: ‘Because I am not worth the dust on
the feet of them that hang’ pg. 125
• Proctor: ‘You have made your magic now,
for now I do think I see some shred of
goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to
weave a banner with, but white enough to
keep it from the dogs.’ pg. 125
• Proctor can see that by staying true to
himself and fighting the evil of the court and
lies he is doing a good act. By remaining
silent with Rebecca Nurse – a good women
– he keeps their names good and the act
they do good as well.
• Elizabeth: ‘He have his goodness now. God
forbid I take it from him!’ pg. 126
• You should know by now that all author’s
write and hope to convey a message or
meaning to the reader/audience.
• What do you think the message of the play
• What is the lesson Miller is trying to teach us?
• While the story is based on real events, Miller
has changed parts to suit his purpose.
• He makes this comment at the beginning of
the play about the accuracy of it and the
• ‘I believe that the reader will discover here
the essential nature of one of the strangest
and most awful chapters in human history’
• Miller wrote this play as a warning.
• He was trying to warn viewers (the world)
about the dangers of hysteria and falling
victim to it.
• Also to highlight the manipulation
• He was also trying to point out the failures in a
legal inquiry in the United States in regards to
Communism. But more on that later.
• The ending of the play is bleak, while John
Proctor found his goodness, evil has wreaked
havoc on the town and destroyed everything it
stood for and believed in.
• In their effort to shape their world to their own
liking they completely destroyed it.
• ‘To all intents and purposes, the power of
theocracy in Massachusetts was broken’

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