After the high drama of Act 3, Act 4 begins in a subdued manner, which as the scene progresses it slowly builds up to the major climax of the play. After the activities in the courtroom, you want Proctor saved and for the authority which controls Salem to become undone. But in reality only one can come true, as if Proctor confesses he is saved but Danforth has won as he got what he wanted and he still has his power.
But if Proctor doesn’t confess he will be killed but Danforth will lose his power as a rebellion would arise due to the unneeded killings of Proctor as well as others such as Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse. From the final Act I expected Proctor to confess and save his own life as he had a pregnant wife and a young family and also because he seemed to be a selfish man which is shown by his relationship with Abigail in which he was only in it for himself. I also expect to see Danforth stick to his principles even though if he was to change then it would be the right decision as Proctor would live and there would be less of a threat of a rebellion taking place and Danforth losing his job.
The setting of the scene is very effective in presenting the themes and representing the mood of the act (the scene is described on page 97). The scene is set in autumn, a cell in Salem jail, that fall (fall being the American word for autumn). This shows that the play has come along a lot since the beginning of the play. Evidence for this is in Act 2 as Proctor says Massachusetts is a beauty in spring (page 42). This shows that the play began in spring and the witchcraft saga continues until autumn. As well as that death can relate to autumn, as it’s the time of year when plants die. And of course the final act is a matter of life and death.
The cell in which the final act is acted out in is an important part of the setting as it links in with the other rooms in which the play is acted out in which are all linked in with the theme of private acts having public consequences. As what happens in Act 1 with Betty and Abigail shouting out names (page 39-40) happens in a private room but the aftermath involves the whole community. Also in Act 2 when Elizabeth is summoned by the courts, she is summoned by the courts in a private place, her home, but this leads to public consequences as it leads eventually to the deaths of Proctor and Giles Corey too.
The same can be said for Act 3 in which Proctor is arrested in a private place, the courtroom, but the consequences will be public as it affects the whole community and also Danforth, Parris and the rest of the authority. What happens in the Cell will affect the whole community as they will either lose three of the more prominent members of the community or they will react to their deaths if eventually sentenced badly and rebel against the men in charge. Therefore linking in with the rest of the play with private rooms having public consequences.
In the setting of the play a high barred window is also mentioned, as well as showing that there is no escape for the prisoners it also shows the imprisonment of the people of Salem and how everyone is under control and without any say of what is done there. The setting also clarifies its dark, this gives the idea that Salem is in the darkness as the events that are ongoing are dark which links in with death. It may also link in with the people who are in the cell as they are the people who confessed showing that they have no principles meaning that they are dark people.
Another important part of the setting is the furnishing in the cell. It’s important because the people who are in the cell are the ones who confessed. You would expect the people who confessed to have better living standards than two benches to sleep on. This results in the question of whether it was worth it to confess and live rather than not confess and die, as the way they are living is practically torture. When the scene then begins Tituba says that the devil is speaking to her when a cow is bellowing (page 98). Although there is a comical aspect as it’s leading up to the final dramatic climax of the play, there is also a serious aspect as the cow bellowing shows us that there is no one to look after it as the owner may be in prison or one of the people who have already been hanged.