Proctor is hiding his feelings from Elizabeth. He wants to be seen as happy but really, he is not. We can see this from Millers dialogue and stage directions. Proctor praises Elizabeth’s soup: Proctor: “It’s well seasoned” However, as the audience, we know that this is a lie. This is as the stage directions tell us that when Proctor had previously tasted the soup without Elizabeth knowing, he ‘is not quite pleased’ and so he ‘ takes a pinch of salt and drops it in the pot’. After, when she returns ‘He swings the pot back into the fireplace’.
This shows how he obviously didn’t want her to know that he wasn’t satisfied with her seasoning as he fears it would hurt her feelings and cause more tension between them. Throughout this extract Proctor falsely compliment’s her but what he says is not from the heart and therefore is not very convincing. However, although the audience knows what he is really feeling, Elizabeth doesn’t and is pleased with his praise. Elizabeth: “(blushing with pleasure): I took great care. ” Proctor then says for the first time, his real feelings.
Proctor: “I mean to please you, Elizabeth. ” Next, Miller uses a silence to create an atmosphere. It intensifies the tension and apprehension of what may happen next. Elizabeth:”(it is hard to say): I know it John. (He gets up, goes to her, kisses her. She receives it. With a certain disappointment, he returns to the table. )” Proctor is not realising the pain he is causing Elizabeth. He thinks she can not tell that he is keeping things from him and that she will forgive him without an explanation or apology.
Miller makes it quite clear that they aren’t close in the stage directions. Miller’s Script: ‘Her back is turned to him. He turns to her and watches her. A sense of their separation rises. ‘ The last extract I will be studying is in the latter part of Act four where John Proctor’s moral journey is concluded. This act is centred around Proctor’s decision on whether to lie and save his life, or to be honest and die. This is the hardest test he has to face throughout the whole play. Proctor, in this scene, is in turmoil. He is very confused and doesn’t know which way to turn.
He discusses with Elizabeth about confessing to the court to save his life. His is obviously scared of dying and forms many excuses why he may as well tell a lie rather than die knowing he has been honest. He still feels guilty about his affair with Abigail and has not forgiven himself for this yet. For this sin, he still sees himself as a bad man. He therefore seems to think that as he will be going to hell anyway for his previous sin, he doesn’t seem to think that this will ever be forgiven however honest he is now. Proctor: “…
my honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothings spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before. ” Elizabeth however disagrees with what he is trying to do, as she knows that he is a good man and wants him to do what is right. It is clear that Proctor wants to tell the truth as to lie would be going against his own morals, he is just scared and need reassurance that he would be doing the right thing. Before he makes this decision, he feels he needs Elizabeth’s forgiveness. However, Elizabeth tells him
” John, it would come to naught that I should forgive you, if you’ll not forgive yourself. ” This means that John needs to be at peace with himself and realise that people make mistakes but as long as he is truly sorry for his sins, they can be forgiven. As well as dialogue, Miller uses stage directions to great effect in this extract. As very short phrases are used in the dialogue, the stage directions help us understand the characters’ feelings by presenting us with an idea of their body language. The following shows how effectively they have been used to express Proctors feelings.
Miller’s Script: “He stands as though in physical pain, slowly rising to his feet with the great immortal longing to find his answer. It is difficult to say, and she is on the verge of tears). Only be sure of this, for I know it now: Whatever you will do it is a good man does it. ” This is powerful as it shows how Elizabeth will support him and although it is hard for her, believes he should die, as she knows him to be a good man. She doesn’t directly say this though as she knows it has to be his decision as it is his conscience and his soul.
Proctor still finds the thought of death too petrifying and so when Hathorne enters the room, he suddenly declares: “I want my life. ” He signs the paper confessing to witchcraft but then immediately snatches the paper back before Danforth can get his hands on it. He finds himself unable to blacken the names of his children, but most importantly lie to himself and to God. He realises that he would not be able to live with himself if he were to lie as this goes against his own visions of descent conduct. His name is everything to him and he is not willing to sign it away to a lie.
Proctor: “I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” He knows that without his soul or name, there is no point in him living. He then tears the piece of paper up and for the first time sees some goodness in himself. Proctor: “… I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs. ” This is a turning point in the play as Proctor has done what he feels is right and therefore is at peace with himself. He will now be able to die knowing he has been true and has done what was morally right.
To end the play, Elizabeth cries: “He have his goodness now. ” John Proctor, who at first denied his sins and was scared of facing their consequences, has learnt to accept his guilt and be true to himself and those around him. This has meant he has become a proud and honourable man-the hero of the play. His final actions are indisputably noble, and his previous sins now seem irrelevant. To end this play, Miller once again uses stage directions. He effectively uses the sun to symbolise the purity of his soul that will now be accepted in heaven.