Devil’s service

Hale’s change of character happens in Act 3. He strongly believes that John Proctor is telling the truth. He is outraged when the court pressurizes John into saying that he has “befouled with hell” and so he quits the court. He returns in Act 4 and tries to persuade the innocent people to confess because he can see that the girls were being vindictive and that these people shouldn’t be in prison. He believes that it is better to lie and live than to die for something that is untrue. He is acting to try and prevent innocent deaths.

The painful nature of truth is a major theme in this play and we find this out when, in Act 3, Elizabeth’s only lie is the lie that condemns her husband to death. We are told by Proctor that Elizabeth “will never lie. ” John confesses to adultery and says that Elizabeth knew about the affair. However, when she is questioned before the court Danforth asks: “Is your husband a lecher? ” She replies faintly, “No, sir,” to save her husband’s name. This is the climax of the play as we are led to believe that Elizabeth would tell the truth as she never lies, however she doesn’t.

John Proctor’s motives for dying are numerous. Firstly, he is willing to die for the truth. Secondly, he wants to save his name. In doing so he has regained his love for Elizabeth and even though it is too late for him at least he died having made up with his wife. He described himself as a “fraud” because he knows he has done wrong. He believes that if he was to be classed as a “saint” when he dies it would be a lie. Also, he believes that the townspeople will be worshipping him for something he has done wrong, even though they don’t know it.

There are many characters that change and develop in the play. An example of one of them is Hale. At the beginning Hale relies on his books and only notices the goodness in people, for example, Rebecca Nurse. He states: “You cannot be Rebecca Nurse? ” However, later in the play, he comes to realise there is more than one character with goodness. We see this change in Act 3 when Elizabeth lies for John and the judge says it is John who lied. After this has happened Hale says: “I believe him! (Pointing to Abigail): This girl has always struck me false.

” Another character who changes is Proctor. At the beginning Proctor has a tense relationship with Elizabeth. We know this because in Act 2 Elizabeth “receives” John’s kiss and then he returns to sit down “with a certain disappointment. ” But in Act 4, just before John is going to hang, Elizabeth is crying and John says “Give them no tear! ” He then “kisses her with great passion. ” This shows that his relationship with his wife is restored. Tragically, it is too late as his death is imminent.

There are also some characters who show a capacity for moral growth, that is, when you finally understand right from wrong. Once again, Hale is one of these characters. In the beginning of the play Hale believes that witchcraft is real and that the children are innocent, “Look at her God given innocence. ” He then realises, in Act 3, that they are not innocent and that witchcraft isn’t real and that it is just a way to condemn people. We know this because Hale states “(indicating Abigail and the girls): You cannot believe them!

” This shows us that his point of view about the girls has changed. The power of the trial scene is very dramatic because of the events that roll off one after the other. You have all the screaming and terror; then Proctor’s outburst; followed by Elizabeth’s lie and finally Mary’s recantation. All the screaming and the terror is dramatic and adds to the climax of the scene because, even though you know that the girls are lying, they continue to keep up the pretence and turn it all on Mary because she decided to tell the truth.

Mary knew that Abigail would turn on her but still went ahead with her decision. When this happened the girls turned on her twice. Once with the wind, “Mary, do you send this shadow on me? ” and then the yellow bird, “Envy is a deadly sin, Mary. ” This tells us that the girls know they are wrong but want to steer the guilt away from them and make it look like Mary is a witch. The next dramatic moment is when Proctor admits to having an affair with Abigail. In this part of the act we see Proctor struggling emotionally to come to terms with his life.

We know this because his voice breaks and he almost cries when he says: “I have known her, sir. ” Then he cries out, “for I thought of her softly, God help me, I lusted. ” This tells us how much he loved Abigail but then he turns the whole thing around when he states: “I have rung the doom of my good name! … My wife is innocent except she knew a whore when she saw one. ” This tells us that he no longer likes Abigail. He has realised that what he did was wrong and that he ought to be shamed for it. This brings us onto the next dramatic moment, Elizabeth’s lie.

We know Elizabeth to be a cold woman, “Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer,” this is the accusation that Proctor makes to Elizabeth in Act 2, but we also know her to be an honest woman, “my wife cannot lie. ” So, it is a surprise to the audience that Elizabeth tells a lie in court. This is an extremely dramatic moment because this lie condemns John Proctor to death. Elizabeth lies because she believes she is saving her husband’s name. Tragically, what she doesn’t realise is that John has already confessed.

We then have the final dramatic moment: Mary’s recantation. This is when she turns on Proctor and says that he was bewitching her and that he sent out his spirit on her, “You’re the Devil’s man” and that he goes to her every night and “claw[s]” at her neck. This is a dramatic moment as Proctor believed that Mary was going to tell the truth. Unfortunately, she turns it all on him just to get rid of all her tension. On the other hand, in Act 4, there are quiet, intimate scenes that can also be intense and dramatic.

Take, for example, when John wants Elizabeth’s forgiveness, Elizabeth stating, “It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery. ” This tells us that Elizabeth believes that if she wasn’t so cold towards John he may not have had an affair with Abigail. If it wasn’t for the affair he may now be safe and not be facing death. It is important for the audience to see this reunion between the Proctors because it allows John to die for what he loves and also because it allows the audience to know the answers to the questions that are left over at the end of Act 3.

Examples of these questions are: “Is Elizabeth really pregnant? ” “Will John confess? ” and “Who has confessed and who has died? ” These questions are important to the end of the play because if they were left unanswered the play wouldn’t be structurally complete. The impact of John’s death helps the characters that change come to terms with their new character and those who haven’t realise that their morals are wrong.

Take Hale, for example, he realises in Act 3 that the morals of the court are wrong and in Act 4 when John dies because he won’t confess Hale pleads with Elizabeth: “Woman plead with him. ” He realises that Proctor is dying for the wrong reasons. Also Parris, who is a selfish man, also pleads with her: “Go to him, Goody Proctor. Go to him. ” This is probably because he realises that he was selfish. He also realises that the reason for John Proctor’s death is because his niece was an adulteress. In conclusion, even though John Proctor dies, it is him, not Danforth, who wins a moral victory.

John Proctor died for the truth and for the love of his wife and children but Danforth believes that John Proctor died because he had lied and wouldn’t confess to doing the Devil’s service. This shows us that John Proctor was the better person; he also knew the girls were false and pretending. However, Danforth chose to believe immoral, little girls who thought sentencing people to death was fun. Act 3 is still the most dramatic; however, Act 4 was closer and more personal. This is because the tension and amount of events that occur in Act 3 is more theatrical than Act 4.

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