Although twice in the play Elizabeth has used very similar words once in Act 2 and once in Act 4 the tone in Act 4 is very much different to the one in Act 2. As the one in Act 2 is more of a confession meaning that she is saying it to him for the first time making him bewildered. Elizabeth saying this is effective because she says the magistrate sits in your heart that judges you which is ironic because rightly or wrongly its not the magistrate in his heart that judges him but the magistrate itself is the one that judges him. In Act 4 she says she can’t judge him, as it’s his decision at that moment as he can choose whether to live or to die.
As well as confrontations with others like Hale, Danforth and Elizabeth, John also has a confrontation with himself, which provides us with the final climax of the play. Even though it’s the final climax Miller has prepared us for the closing moment by revealing Proctor’s guilt to the audience early in the play with his exchange with Abigail in Act 1. You can first see the confrontation with himself when he has a troubled conscience of page 16 where it says he has come to regard himself as a kind of fraud due to the affair with Abigail. It is also clear that he is still attracted to Abigail but has made the decision to deny that attraction as he has a family and a reputation to withhold. You can see he is still attracted to her when she claims that she sees him outside her window every night and he does not deny it.
Another early sign of a confrontation with himself is in the court room in Act 3 were he has so much difficulty in confessing in his sin of adultery as it says he trembling with his life collapsing about him (page 88). The trembling shows that he doesn’t want to say it but to free his wife and the others he feels the need to. The reason for him not wanting to say is because he cares so much for his name and the reputation he has within the community of Salem. Another sign of a confrontation with himself is when he is talking to Elizabeth in Act 4 and she attempts to convince him of his goodness he rejects it and claims only spite of the authority has kept him silent showing that he doesn’t believe he is a good man.
In the exchange between the two of them Proctor uses the word pretence this is significant because he has used the word before in Act 3 about the girls saying it was only pretence (page 92). This therefore makes him a hypocrite as he says its pretence on their part and says its wrong but he then says he is pretending making it a contradiction as it makes out that its wrong for them to pretend but not for him. The reasons for him confessing to Danforth are that he wants to live and the only way of doing so is by confessing to the authorities (page 110), but it is not because he feels it’s the right thing to have done as he calls it fraud.
Miller inserts the confession of Proctor as it adds to the dramatic impact of Act 4. It is his final refusal to comply with Danforth once he changes his mind and rips up the confession. The confession also surprises the audience as he has been considered as a man of integrity beforehand. The feeling from the confession is mixed as the audience want to see Proctor live but if he does then the authorities would have won meaning they still have the power but on the other hand people are upset that he has confessed as it is a change of his personality to comply with the rules and also because the audience want to see the authorities become undone and be an authority no more.
Another reason for Proctor changing his mind about the confession is Danforth implicating others and his insistence of the signature which Proctor doesn’t like and makes him change his mind and take on a role of a martyr. This situation can be compared to the House of Un-American Activities Committee as McCarthy the man who led the proceedings as they demanded confessions from people otherwise a punishment will ensue and forcing people to confess like Danforth, this can therefore make Proctor a representation of Miller as Proctor refused to confess in the end and Miller refused to give names of who he thought were communists when he was brought to the Committee.
Miller uses the confession to heighten the drama of the closing minutes of the play, he also uses the language of Proctor to heighten the drama with repetition of words like because in his speech on page 115 showing that he thinks for himself and has reasons for him ripping up the confession. Also Proctor’s language involves rhetorical questions such as what more is needed? Showing his unhappiness at the situation and he just wants to get it over with as he’s ashamed of what he is doing.
His language also shows him to have pride and deep feelings as he asks Elizabeth to hold back her tears without reason but probably because he doesn’t want to cry to as he has too much pride in himself. The drama is also heightened by Proctor’s tears on page 115 as it shows part of him still wants to live but it would be wrong to confess and let Danforth win. Another way is the tearing up of the paper as Danforth leaves Proctor two avenues and leaves him the decision which makes the audience wait in anticipation for what Proctor will do with the paper intensifying the drama.
The passionate embrace with his wife also heightens the drama as it’s their final goodbye and implicates that its almost definite Proctor’s life will be taken. John sweeping up Rebecca Nurse on page 116 heightens the drama as it shows they will unite together against confessing. Danforth’s last words heighten the drama too as they show how ironic he is again. As he says who weeps for these, weep for corruption when he is the one who is corrupt as he says that Proctor will be blessed for confessing he has seen the devil when you would expect him to be damned for him. Parris’ pleading heightens the tension as it shows how pathetic he is and also how selfish he is as he is only thinking about himself and his job and he knows he will lose it if Proctor dies.
Hale’s pleading does the same too as its ironic as he says take the shame away but him pleading like he is puts shame on him and also as he has encouraged Proctor to lie makes him shameful. The three drum rolls finish the play off effectively as it ensures the audience that Proctor is dead specified also by the description of them rattling like bones. Elizabeth’s actions on the last page also heighten the drama as when she stares down the doorway where Proctor is being lead through it shows she is resigned to him dying and can’t decide for him as she can’t judge him. The drum roll drawing her attention to the window heightens the drama as she is looking out the window probably to see her husband hang and maybe that’s why she needs the window to support herself. Her escape form Hales pleas close the matter once and for all as she is the only person who can really save John but as she won’t judge him he won’t live.
The symbolism of the sun pouring down her face shows that after the death of John she will start a new. All these points help decide who is the triumphant. In my opinion I believe Proctor is the one who is triumphant as Danforth and the authorities have lost all respect due to the death of him. The final scenes show that Proctor has changed from being a pragmatist to being a man of principles as he wants to keep his name and not confess therefore losing respect, and as he has not lost any respect and in fact gained it, it furthers the point that he won and Danforth lost.