The Final Scene
Pages 113- 126
John Proctor has a decision to make in the final scene – to confess or not to confess.
He wants to stay alive for his wife, children and unborn child.
He does not see himself as a good man – he has sinned in the past and still carries the guilt of that.
Hale argues that life is God’s most precious gift – more important than any principle.
If he does confess then his reputation is destroyed – he will lose his good name.
His confession would show support of the court and the trials and acknowledge that what Abigail is saying is true.
He would be letting down Elizabeth and the others accused of witchcraft eg Rebecca Nurse.
Elizabeth does not want John to confess but she also wants him to stay alive.
She has the final line in the play – ‘He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!’
He wants John to confess – to save his life.
He wants John to confess top support the court and justify what has happened.
John takes the hard course – he chooses death when he retracts his confession. He has to face death.
How does the end of the play fit with John Proctor’s character?
Throughout the play John has made wrong decisions –
1 The affair with Abigail.
2 He has not acted on his conscience – he knows what he should do but he does not do it.
Proctor’s conscience tells him what is right but he has not always followed it. However in the final scene he does act on his conscience. The natural thing is to preserve our own life but John has to find the courage to go beyond that and do the right thing.
Dramatic impact – succession of events in the final scene – dramatic suspense – What will happen? What will John do? It confirms the heroic nature of Proctor – he has done the right thing. He wins in the end over the power of evil and darkness.
Themes – importance of the truth, acting on your conscience.
The quotations are highlighted in your text. Think about how to analyse them.
Explain exactly what is Proctor’s fate at the end of the play.
- he has been accused of witchcraft – a crime he did not commit – he is innocent
- he has been in jail for three months, tortured and away from his wife and children.
- he is due to hang that morning and face s a terrible decision to confess and save his life, but destroy his name or refuse to confess and hang.