ACT 4 – Scene 3
Reverend Hale is having difficulties in persuading the seven condemned to
death to confess, and he pleads again with Danforth for more time.
He senses that Proctor is considering confessing, so he asks Elizabeth to
talk to her husband stressing the future in store for their children if he is hanged. Elizabeth feels responsible for Proctor’s situation because she lied in Court.
She also feels guilty for being suspicious about her husband after the affair with Abigail. She tells Proctor that she totally forgives him for the affair.
The only spark of light in this black affair is the fact that Proctor and
Elizabeth have forgiven one another and are now able to communicate their true feelings for each other. In this hour of desperation they are perhaps closer than they have been for a long time.
Elizabeth wants to be optimistic about the future and she cannot visualise
it without her husband, and it is this argument that will persuade Proctor to confess guilt.
As we have said before, this Court in Salem operates on the dictum that when
an individual is accused of witchcraft they are guilty, and there is only one sentence for this crime – death. This is unlike the modern Court where an individual is innocent until proved guilty.
Therefore, Proctor, if he wishes to plea bargain has to confess the
witchcraft in order to save his life. In confessing, Proctor will show repentance and he will be saved from execution.
His reluctance in making a confession is that he does not wish to give the Judges the satisfaction of winning the day. He considers them subhuman and to bow to their will is a bitter pill to swallow.