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Module 1: The Crucible Act Four

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English - Act four summary

Act four summary

Act Four takes place in the jail cell and the beginning of the act
provides the only bit of comic relief in the play with Tituba and Sarah
Good mistaking the marshal for the devil. We learn that the town is
collapsing and going to ruin now that so many have been hung or are in
jail. Hale has been sitting with the prisoners, attempting to get them to
'confess' and save their lives. Parris is forced to admit that Abigail has
run away and, fearing the consequences, begs Danforth to let Proctor and
Rebecca Nurse live.

Elizabeth is brought before Proctor and she tells him of Giles' death.
Proctor admits to Elizabeth that he is thinking of 'confessing' that he is
not a pure man like Giles and therefore it would not matter if he lied
again. He asks Elizabeth her opinion but she will not answer. She admits to
her own sins and tells Proctor that whatever he does now she knows him to
be a good man.

Proctor gives his confession but refuses to sign it. When he is pressured
to do so he does it reluctantly. He is distraught at people being able to
see that he signed his name to lies and claims "I AM NOT WORTH THE DUST ON
THE FEET OF THOSE WHO HANG". After much protestation Proctor then rips up
the confession. Proctor feels vindicated now that he has denied the charge
and come to peace with himself, "NOW I DO SEE SOME SHRED OF GOODNESS IN
JOHN PROCTOR". The act ends with Proctor and Rebecca Nurse being taken out
to hang. The sun shines in on Elizabeth, who exclaims "HE HATH HIS GOODNESS
NOW".

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