The Final Act is John Proctor’s Stand in Court Against the Evil in his Society. Examine why he makes his individual Sacrifice and Explore how Miller Creates Dramatic Tension in this final act The Crucible set in 1692, tells the story of a witch-hunt in Salem Massachusetts, a small Puritan community. Written by Arthur Miller in 1962, it is told through the eyes of John Proctor, a well-known man in Salem, whose adulterous involvement with Abigail Williams – the ringleader of the witch-hunt accusations, leads ultimately to the sacrifice of his own life.
Puritanism was the only religion in Salem and brought with it strict rules that had to be adhered to. Puritans believed that every soul was predestined for heaven or hell and had a strong belief in the devil and his temptations, anyone seen to break any of the stern laws set down by the church suffered severe punishment, the harshest of which being death. The final act in the play shows John Proctor’s stand in court against the evil and corruption in his society.
When his wife is called into question and accused as a witch, he realises he must face the court and tell them the truth. He tells Reverend Hale in Act two, “Mr. Parris discovered them sportin’ in the woods. They were startled and took sick”. With his involvement with Abigail, John Proctor’s shocking revelation proves that the witch-hunt was not all that it seemed and this primarily brought him to the final ultimate decision – his life.
In the final act John Proctor gives up his life for many reasons, and this final conclusion arises from the events of the previous three acts. John Proctor is introduced into the play in Act one, when Betty Parris reminds Abigail “you drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor! ” He is described as a man who was ‘powerful of body, even tempered, and not easily led’. Nevertheless, John Proctor ‘has come to regard himself as a kind of fraud’ over his actions with Abigail. His relationship with Elizabeth also seems to be under strain.
The beginning of Act two shows very abrupt and civil conversation between man and wife, and it seems that John Proctor is always trying to please Elizabeth. “If the crop is good I’ll buy George Jacob’s heifer. How would that please you? ” He then goes on to say, “I only mean to please you Elizabeth”, and this implies a rather tense relationship. When he goes to kiss her, she “receives it” to his utter-most disappointment, and it is apparent to the audience that although they are married, there is an awkward sense of separation between them.
The dawn before John Proctor’s death shows Hale, who previously quit the court return, as he believed that if Elizabeth saw John before he died, then perhaps she could persuade him to change his mind and save himself. When John sees Elizabeth their true love for each other is shown for the first time. Elizabeth tells John that Giles was dead and that Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey had still refused to admit falsely. John is insecure and unsure of what to do. “I have been thinking I would confess to them, Elizabeth. What say you? If I gave them that? ” Elizabeth replies “I cannot judge you John”.