When Elizabeth is charged with witchcraft, John sacrifices his pride in an attempt to save her – his pride which he held so dear, this shows the audience that he truly loves Elizabeth. Miller also portrays Elizabeth’s love for John by lying to try to protect him but this proved to be his undoing because John had told the court that his wife would never lie ‘your wife you say is an honest woman – in her life, sir, she never lied’. It is very ironic indeed that her first lie causes John’s downfall.
This could have been a pivotal part in the play because had she told the truth, Abigail would have been ‘defeated’ but because of her lie, it spirals out of John’s control. The power of fear over Mary Warren caused her to accuse John of witchcraft when the other girls turned on her. In Act 4 a while after John Proctor’s imprisonment, it is evident that it is a broken man ‘it is beyond sorrow… weak he sits’ ‘he is another man’. Miller uses excellent stage directions because with a few well chosen words he manages to destroy the image of proctor when he was a physically strong man.
Elizabeth feels she has to be strong for both of them and will not let her weakness or sorrow show ‘catches a weakening in herself and drowns it… not let herself be drowned in the sea that threatens her’. Miller’s choice of words is very powerful because the word “sea” instead of tears portrays to the audience just how deep the sorrow she feels is which immediately makes the audience sympathize, if not empathize with the couple. Through adversity, their relationship changes, it made them stronger even though they were separated.
John Proctor is desperately in need of Elizabeth’s judgement and approval unlike in Act 2. Elizabeth is not quick to judge but instead she tries to share the blame for the breakdown in their relationship ‘it takes a cold wife to prompt lechery’. This is very magnanimous of her because none of the blame was hers to take. They have thorough honesty with each other. The word ‘The Crucible’ is a very good metaphor for this point in the play because as they forgive each other, they finally separate the impurities from their love.
Proctor’s confession comes to be important to the authorities because of his reputation ‘it is a weighty name; it will strike the village that proctor confess’. If John confesses others will follow suit and it will show the court as being fair. Proctor is momentarily prepared to give a confession because he wanted to live for Elizabeth and she wants him to live but isn’t prepared to tell him which way to go because she knew how important it was to John to see “goodness” in himself.
When Proctor is asked to give names of people he “saw” with the devil, he refuses to give names ‘I speak my own sins, I cannot judge another’ ‘(crying out with hatred) I have no tongue for it’. He feels he had no right to judge anyone when he himself isn’t pure. The hatred he feels is towards the judges for making him give the confession and also towards himself for giving into it. Proctor refuses to let them have his signed confession because it’s his name and his name is his pride.
He knows if the village sees his singed confession, his name will be blackened and the respect he was has will be gone ‘how may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave my name! ‘ He knows he is singing to lies. He knows if his confession is nailed to the door he will be branded a liar, a witch and he will never be able to change it. ‘I think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor’ – he has finally forgiven himself, by not giving his name and he can leave with some dignity. He feels he has gotten back some of his integrity in front of God and he can be at peace with himself.
The actions of the other characters and the raw emotions Miller shows through the stage directions heightens the climax of the end of the play ‘Parris: (in deadly fear)… (Rushes out to the door… to hold back his fate)’ Parris and Hale feel a sense of responsibility for the event unfolding before them ‘(he drops to his knees)… go to him take his shame away’. ‘The final drum roll crashes… and the new sun is pouring in upon her face’ – this signifies that as one thing ends, another begins. ‘The new sun’ signifies new beginnings and sun brings life and hope, this means there’s hope for Elizabeth and the rest of Salem.