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Act 4 gives us the exciting conclusion to this saga of madness. How are the citizens of Salem and their governing officials dealing with the fallout from the trials? Will the "witches" falsely confess to avoid execution? Does John Proctor still, like, totally hate himself? Read on to find out all this and more, including key quotes and a thematic analysis for the final act of The Crucible.

The Crucible Act 4 Summary—Short Version

Act 4 opens with Herrick removing Tituba and Sarah Good from a jail cell so the court officials can hold a meeting there. Reverend Hale and Reverend Parris are off praying with the other condemned prisoners, which is unsettling to Danforth and Hathorne. When Parris arrives at the meeting, he explains that Hale is trying to get the prisoners to confess to their crimes rather than lose their lives needlessly. He also reveals that Abigail and Mercy Lewis have run away, and they stole his life's savings.

The authorities then discuss the state of social unrest that has emerged in Salem after the jailing of so many citizens. Hathorne denies that there is any possibility of rebellion ("Why at every execution I have seen naught but high satisfaction in the town" (pg. 117)), but Parris is very concerned about what will happen if they hang people who are well-respected. Parris has already received a death threat in the form of a dagger wedged in his doorway. He advises that they postpone the hangings and continue pushing for confessions, but Danforth refuses because it would make him look bad.

Hale arrives and says that he hasn't extracted any confessions yet. The one prisoner who he hasn't talked to is John Proctor. The officials decide that they will bring in Elizabeth Proctor to speak with him and convince him to confess. Elizabeth and John are left alone, and Elizabeth informs John of Giles Corey's death. Giles was pressed to death with heavy stones since he refused to plead guilty or innocent to the charges of witchcraft. John begs her to tell him whether or not he should confess. He's leaning towards confessing because he doesn't think very much of himself and feels his soul is already beyond redemption. He asks for Elizabeth's forgiveness, but she says her forgiveness doesn't mean anything if he won't forgive himself. She also places some blame on herself for the way things went down with Abigail. She tells him that only he can decide whether or not to confess.

John tentatively agrees to confess, but he refuses to name any names and then is reluctant to sign the confession. He decides he can't go through the rest of his life after signing his name into disgrace in this permanent way. He snatches the signed paper away at the last minute and rips it to shreds, thus sealing his fate. Rebecca Nurse and John are then led off to the gallows by Marshal Herrick. The others beg Elizabeth to convince him to reconsider, but she refuses to deprive him of this choice when it's clearly the only way he can break free from his self-hatred.


The Crucible Act 4 Summary—"Oops, I Didn't Read It" Version

This act takes place in a jail cell in Salem. Marshal Herrick wakes up the occupants, Sarah Good and Tituba, to move them to a different cell. The two women speak of their plans to fly away to Barbados after the Devil comes for them and transforms them into bluebirds. They mistake the bellowing of a cow for the arrival of Satan to carry them away (could've happened to anyone). Herrick ushers them out of the cell as Tituba calls to the Devil to take her home.

Once they leave, Danforth, Hathorne, and Cheever enter the cell, and Herrick returns to join their meeting. Danforth is disturbed to learn from Herrick that Reverend Hale has been praying with the prisoners. Reverend Parris is also supposed to meet with Danforth and Hathorne, so Herrick goes to get him. Apparently, Parris is praying with Reverend Hale and Rebecca Nurse. It turns out that Parris told Herrick to allow Hale to see the prisoners.

Danforth is concerned that Parris is acting weird. Hathorne mentions Parris has had looked a little crazed lately and thinks it might not be wise to allow him amongst the prisoners. He said good morning to Parris a few days earlier, but Parris just started crying and walked away. Hathorne is worried about Parris appearing this unstable since he's supposed to be the town's spiritual leader. Cheever says he thinks Parris' distress is a product of the ongoing property disputes in town. Abandoned cows are wandering all over the place because their owners are in jail. Parris has been arguing with farmers about who gets to claim these cows for days, and he doesn't handle conflict well, so it makes him upset. Parris finally enters the cell, looking haggard. Danforth and Hathorne immediately criticize him for letting Hale speak with the prisoners. Parris says Hale is trying to persuade the prisoners to return to God and save their lives by confessing. Danforth is surprised, but he welcomes this news.

Parris then reveals why he called this meeting with the court officials. Abigail and Mercy Lewis disappeared a few days before. Parris says he thinks they've boarded a ship, and they stole his entire life's savings to pay for passage. He's been upset lately because he's completely broke. Danforth is exasperated and calls Parris a fool. Parris says that the next town over, Andover, rejected the witch trial trend and threw out the court, which has sparked the beginnings of a rebellion in Salem. Abigail most likely left for fear that people in Salem might turn against her.

Hathorne doesn't buy into the idea that a rebellion is fomenting in Salem because the town has been supportive of the executions so far. Parris points out that this is because all of the people who have been executed up until now had bad reputations for other reasons (Bridget Bishop lived with a man before marrying him, Isaac Ward's alcoholism left his family in poverty). Now they're about to hang Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor, people who are still well-liked and respected in the community. That's not going to sit well with many of the townspeople. Parris advises Danforth to postpone the hangings so he and Hale can continue to push for confessions and avoid social unrest. Danforth is adamant that everything will proceed as planned. Parris reveals that he has received a death threat and fears for his life if they don't postpone the executions.

Hale enters the cell, saddened and exhausted, and says he hasn't been able to get anyone to confess. He begs Danforth to pardon the prisoners or at least give him more time to bring them around. Danforth insists he can't pardon anyone or postpone the hangings. Twelve people have already been hung for the same crime. Pardon or postponement would be unfair and, what's worse, it would make him look weak.

John Proctor is the only prisoner Hale hasn't spoken to yet. The officials decide to summon Elizabeth Proctor to see if she will speak to her husband and persuade him to confess. Hale keeps pushing Danforth to postpone the executions, arguing that it would show that he is merciful rather than weak, but Danforth won't change his mind. Hale points out that society in Salem is on the verge of collapsing because of the upheaval caused by the trials. Danforth asks Hale why he has even bothered to return to Salem , and Hale says it's because he can't live with the part he played in condemning innocent people to death. There will be less blood on his hands if he can get them to confess.

Elizabeth Proctor is led into the cell. Hale begs her to convince her husband to confess. He says it's better to tell a white lie than to sacrifice a life for pride, but Elizabeth is not convinced ("I think that be the Devil's argument." (pg. 122)). She agrees to speak with her husband, but she doesn't promise to persuade him to confess. A ragged John Proctor is escorted in by Marshal Herrick, and he and Elizabeth are left alone. Elizabeth reveals to John that many people have confessed to witchcraft, but Giles Corey refused to plead one way or the other on the charges leveled against him. He was pressed to death by his interrogators, but his sons will inherit his farm (his property would have been publicly auctioned off if he officially died a criminal).

Proctor has been contemplating making a confession, and he asks Elizabeth what she thinks he should do. He feels he has already committed so many sins that it's stupid for him to bother holding up his integrity on this one point. John says he has only refrained from confessing out of spite, not nobility. He asks for Elizabeth's forgiveness. She says he needs to forgive himself first, and her forgiveness doesn't mean much if he still feels he's a bad person. She blames herself for pushing him into Abigail's arms and says he shouldn't take responsibility for her issues as well.

Hathorne returns to the jail cell. Elizabeth tells John that he has to make his own choice on whether or not to confess. John says he chooses to have his life, and Hathorne assumes this means he will confess. John asks Elizabeth what she would do, but his question ends up being rhetorical. He knows she would never give into the pressure and lie. However, he still hates himself and thinks he's not good enough to die a martyr.

Danforth, Parris, Cheever, and Hale return and start questioning Proctor so they can write down his confession. John begins to confess, but he falters when Rebecca Nurse is led into the cell and expresses her disappointment. John refuses to name any names of other people he's seen with the Devil, and Danforth becomes frustrated. Hale manages to persuade Danforth to accept this and allow John to sign the confession as-is. John balks at actually signing his name to the confession. He finally does so, but then he snatches the signed paper away. He doesn't want to be held up by the court as an example to other prisoners.

John says he can't bring himself to bind his name to such a shameful lie. Danforth is incensed and insists that the document must be an honest confession, or Proctor will hang. Proctor tears up his confession. He finally decides he does have some decency within him, and it will be manifested in this final sacrifice. Danforth orders the hangings to commence. Parris and Hale beg Elizabeth to convince John to reconsider as John and Rebecca are led off to the gallows. Elizabeth refuses; she realizes that this is what John needs to do. He'd rather die with dignity than live in shame, and she respects his choice.


The Crucible Act 4 Quotes

In this section, I'll list a few of the most important quotes in Act 4 and explain why they matter.

"Oh, it be no Hell in Barbados. Devil, him be pleasure-man in Barbados, him be singin' and dancin' in Barbados. It's you folks - you riles him up 'round here; it be too cold 'round here for that Old Boy." Tituba, pg. 113

This is probably the most substantive line spoken by Tituba in the play. She recognizes the culture in Salem as overly repressive and conceives of "the Devil" in a different light. The Devil is not an evil presence; he represents freedom from the bonds of a society that forces people to deny their humanity constantly. Tituba feels that the Devil is provoked into mischief by the hypocrisy of the citizens of Salem.

"Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering. If retaliation is your fear, know this - I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statutes." Danforth, pg. 119-120

This quote provides deeper insight into Danforth's character and state of mind. He feels that he can't postpone the hangings now because he may be seen as weak and indecisive. He definitely can't pardon the prisoners because people might suspect mistakes were also made in past convictions. Every person brought in by the trials and convicted must receive an equally harsh punishment, or Danforth's reputation will be decimated. He is so authoritarian that he would hang ten thousand people who objected to a law without stopping to consider whether this big of an uprising could indicate major flaws in the law itself. Danforth is dependent on this concept of the infallibility of the law because it allows him to maintain control.

"I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up. Beware, Goody Proctor - cleave to no faith where faith brings blood. It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice. Life, woman, life is God's most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess. Let him give his lie. Quail not before God's judgement in this, for it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride." Reverend Hale, 122

Hale is a disillusioned shell of the man he was at the beginning of the play. He initially felt that he was bringing enlightenment to Salem, but he inadvertently brought destruction instead. His good intentions rooted in a strong faith led to the loss of innocent lives. Hale argues that throwing away one's life, even if it's done in adherence to God's commandments, leaves a darker moral stain on the world than giving a false confession. This advice is largely an effort to assuage his guilt about the situation. He won't be able to live with himself if all these people die because of his mistakes.

"Let them that never lied die now to keep their souls. It is pretense for me, a vanity that will not blind God nor keep my children out of the wind." John Proctor, 126

John is convinced that he is not worthy of dying as a martyr because he has already lied and committed immoral acts in his life. He feels his soul beyond saving, so he should stop acting all virtuous and just confess. There is no point in remaining honest if he is already going to Hell with or without this false confession. At least if he lives, he can continue to provide for his kids and postpone an unpleasant afterlife.

"Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feel of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" John Proctor, pg. 133

Proctor has this outburst after he snatches his signed confession away from Danforth. He can't bring himself to permanently sacrifice his reputation by signing the confession. He feels his self-loathing and inevitable suffering in the afterlife is punishment enough ("I have given you my soul"). He can't stomach the idea of also being defined by his confession in the eyes of society and history. He knows his name will forever be associated with cowardice and a lack of integrity.

"He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!" Elizabeth Proctor, pg. 134

Elizabeth refuses to dissuade John from revoking his confession. She can see that he has achieved freedom from his own self-loathing through this final truthful act. If she persuades him to return and confess, she might as well not save his life at all because he will feel so utterly worthless after throwing away this last bit of integrity.


Act 4 Thematic Analysis

Here's a list of the major themes that are expressed in Act 4 along with some short explanations and analyses.

Danforth makes a few ironic statements in Act 4 as he interrogates Elizabeth and John. In observing Elizabeth's lack of emotion when he asks her to help them convince John to confess, he says "A very ape would weep at such calamity! Have the Devil dried up any tear of pity in you?" (pg. 123) He is shocked that she isn't acting more upset even though he has shown no remorse for condemning people to death throughout the play. In fact, he expressed his viewpoint that "I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statutes" (pg. 120). He can't understand why Elizabeth doesn't fall apart and beg her husband to confess because he doesn't grasp the idea that an action can be legally prudent but morally distasteful.

Later in Act 4, Danforth becomes angry at the implication that John's confession may not be the truth. He says "I am not empowered to trade your life for a lie" (Danforth pg. 130). This is an example of tragic irony because Danforth has been trading people's lives for lies this whole time. He has sentenced numerous people to death based on lies about their dealings in black magic, and he has accepted the false confessions of those who would rather lie than be executed.

Though there is less evidence of hysteria in this act, Danforth, for one, is still very much caught up in the "WWIIIIIITTTTCHHHH" mindset. As John gives his confession, Danforth says to Rebecca Nurse "Now, woman, you surely see it profit nothin' to keep this conspiracy any further. Will you confess yourself with him?" (pg. 129). He remains convinced that everyone is guilty .

Danforth also becomes frustrated with Proctor when he won't name names in his confession: "Mr. Proctor, a score of people have already testified they saw [Rebecca Nurse] with the Devil" (pg. 130). Danforth is convinced that John knows more about the Devil's dealings than he has revealed. Though Rebecca Nurse's involvement has already been corroborated by other confessors, Danforth demands to hear it from John. This testimony will confirm that John is fully committed to renouncing his supposed ties to Satan.

As the hysteria over the witch trials dies down, it becomes apparent that the reputations of the accused continue to influence how they are treated as prisoners. Parris begs Danforth to postpone the executions of John and Rebecca because they're so well-respected that he's received death threats for going along with their hangings. He says, "I would to God it were not so, Excellency, but these people have great weight yet in the town" (pg. 118).

However, Danforth's own reputation as a strong judge hangs in the balance, and he dares not damage it by getting all wishy-washy. "Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering" (pg. 119).

John Proctor's concern for his reputation also plays a role in the events of Act 4. He goes to the gallows instead of providing a false confession because he realizes his life won't be worth living if he publicly disgraces himself in this way: "How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" (pg. 133).

Power and Authority

In Act 4, many of the power structures that were in place earlier in the play have broken down or become meaningless. Though the judges and reverends technically still hold official positions of authority, Reverend Parris has been subjected to death threats, and Salem as a whole seems to be in complete disarray. The judges now have little respect for Parris ("Mr. Parris, you are a brainless man!" pg. 117), who has become weak and vulnerable following the loss of his life's savings.

The prisoners have lost what little faith they had in the earthly authority figures who have failed them, and they look towards the judgment of God. John ultimately realizes the only power he has left is in refusing to confess and preserving his integrity. As Elizabeth says to him, "There be no higher judge under Heaven than Proctor is!" (pg. 127). In steadfastly refusing to confess, Rebecca Nurse ends up holding onto a significant amount of power. The judges cannot force her to commit herself to a lie, and her sacrifice will deal a serious blow to their legitimacy.

Several characters are still dealing with intense guilt at the end of The Crucible. After quitting the court in Act 3, Hale did some self-reflection and decided to return to Salem to advise the accused witches to confess. His rationalization is that encouraging people to lie to save their lives is a forgivable sin, but being responsible for the deaths of innocents is not. He's wracked with guilt over the part he played in kicking off the witchcraft hysteria ("There is blood on my head!" pg. 121). However, because Hale is so tormented, he's only able to consider his personal feelings about the situation. The false confessions might absolve him of his guilt, but the confessors would be forced to live the rest of their lives in shame.

This might seem strange to us today (obviously you should just lie to avoid being executed!), but we have to consider the pervasiveness of religion in Puritan society. This is not just a matter of upholding one's good name in society—it's a matter of the state of one's soul. To the most devout people (like Rebecca Nurse) in such a highly religious culture, lying about involvement with the Devil might be considered worse than death. If a person dies without sin, she will go to Heaven, but if she corroborates the lie perpetuated by the courts, her soul will carry a permanent stain and could spend eternity in Purgatory or Hell. Hale's argument is less than convincing to people who have spent their whole lives in service to God and don't intend to compromise such an excellent record.

Meanwhile, John Proctor continues to feel guilty for his affair and the role it has played in putting both he and his wife in mortal peril. A deep fear of hypocrisy almost persuades Proctor to confess because he would feel guilty martyring himself next to other people like Rebecca Nurse who are genuinely without sin. He says, "My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man" (pg. 126). However, he ultimately doesn't allow his guilt to define him and refuses to give up the remainder of his integrity.

Elizabeth also displays some guilt in Act 4 when she partially blames herself for pushing John into Abigail's arms ("I have sins of my own to count. It takes a cold wife to prompt lechery" pg. 126). The sexism of the play shows through in Elizabeth's guilt. She has been conditioned to believe that it's her job to prevent her husband from straying by being a happy homemaker. If we weren't entirely sure that this play was written in the 1950s before, it's pretty clear now.


The Crucible Act 4 Review

Let's do a quick recap of the events of Act 4 , the frustrating conclusion of The Crucible :

In Miller's short afterward, entitled "Echoes Down the Corridor," he states that Parris was soon voted out of office, and the families of the victims of the witch trials were later provided with compensation by the government. He claims that in the aftermath of the trials, "the power of theocracy in Massachusetts was broken." However, the events of The Crucible provide an all too clear allegory for many modern-day tragedies borne of prejudice, fear, and ignorance.

What's Next?

Now that you've read summaries for each act of The Crucible, check out our complete thematic analysis of the play so you can kick butt on all your English quizzes and essays.

Need some quotes to flesh out your essay? Read this list of the most important quotes in The Crucible , cataloged by theme.

You should also take a look at our analyses of two of the most important women in The Crucible , Abigail Williams and Rebecca Nurse .

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The Crucible

Arthur miller.

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Full Play Summary

In the Puritan New England town of Salem, Massachusetts, a group of girls goes dancing in the forest with a black slave named Tituba. While dancing, they are caught by the local minister, Reverend Parris. One of the girls, Parris’s daughter Betty, falls into a coma-like state. A crowd gathers in the Parris home while rumors of witchcraft fill the town. Having sent for Reverend Hale , an expert on witchcraft, Parris questions Abigail Williams , the girls’ ringleader, about the events that took place in the forest. Abigail, who is Parris’s niece and ward, admits to doing nothing beyond “dancing.”

While Parris tries to calm the crowd that has gathered in his home, Abigail talks to some of the other girls, telling them not to admit to anything. John Proctor , a local farmer, then enters and talks to Abigail alone. Unbeknownst to anyone else in the town, while working in Proctor’s home the previous year she engaged in an affair with him, which led to her being fired by his wife, Elizabeth . Abigail still desires Proctor, but he fends her off and tells her to end her foolishness with the girls.

Betty wakes up and begins screaming. Much of the crowd rushes upstairs and gathers in her bedroom, arguing over whether she is bewitched. A separate argument between Proctor, Parris, the argumentative Giles Corey , and the wealthy Thomas Putnam soon ensues. This dispute centers on money and land deeds, and it suggests that deep fault lines run through the Salem community. As the men argue, Reverend Hale arrives and examines Betty, while Proctor departs. Hale quizzes Abigail about the girls’ activities in the forest, grows suspicious of her behavior, and demands to speak to Tituba. After Parris and Hale interrogate her for a brief time, Tituba confesses to communing with the devil, and she hysterically accuses various townsfolk of consorting with the devil. Suddenly, Abigail joins her, confessing to having seen the devil conspiring and cavorting with other townspeople. Betty joins them in naming witches, and the crowd is thrown into an uproar.

A week later, alone in their farmhouse outside of town, John and Elizabeth Proctor discuss the ongoing trials and the escalating number of townsfolk who have been accused of being witches. Elizabeth urges her husband to denounce Abigail as a fraud; he refuses, and she becomes jealous, accusing him of still harboring feelings for her. Mary Warren , their servant and one of Abigail’s circle, returns from Salem with news that Elizabeth has been accused of witchcraft but the court did not pursue the accusation. Mary is sent up to bed, and John and Elizabeth continue their argument, only to be interrupted by a visit from Reverend Hale. While they discuss matters, Giles Corey and Francis Nurse come to the Proctor home with news that their wives have been arrested. Officers of the court suddenly arrive and arrest Elizabeth. After they have taken her, Proctor browbeats Mary, insisting that she must go to Salem and expose Abigail and the other girls as frauds.

The next day, Proctor brings Mary to court and tells Judge Danforth that she will testify that the girls are lying. Danforth is suspicious of Proctor’s motives and tells Proctor, truthfully, that Elizabeth is pregnant and will be spared for a time. Proctor persists in his charge, convincing Danforth to allow Mary to testify. Mary tells the court that the girls are lying. When the girls are brought in, they turn the tables by accusing Mary of bewitching them. Furious, Proctor confesses his affair with Abigail and accuses her of being motivated by jealousy of his wife. To test Proctor’s claim, Danforth summons Elizabeth and asks her if Proctor has been unfaithful to her. Despite her natural honesty, she lies to protect Proctor’s honor, and Danforth denounces Proctor as a liar. Meanwhile, Abigail and the girls again pretend that Mary is bewitching them, and Mary breaks down and accuses Proctor of being a witch. Proctor rages against her and against the court. He is arrested, and Hale quits the proceedings.

The summer passes and autumn arrives. The witch trials have caused unrest in neighboring towns, and Danforth grows nervous. Abigail has run away, taking all of Parris’s money with her. Hale, who has lost faith in the court, begs the accused witches to confess falsely in order to save their lives, but they refuse. Danforth, however, has an idea: he asks Elizabeth to talk John into confessing, and she agrees. Conflicted, but desiring to live, John agrees to confess, and the officers of the court rejoice. But he refuses to incriminate anyone else, and when the court insists that the confession must be made public, Proctor grows angry, tears it up, and retracts his admission of guilt. Despite Hale’s desperate pleas, Proctor goes to the gallows with the others, and the witch trials reach their awful conclusion.

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The Crucible

By arthur miller, the crucible summary and analysis of act four.

The fourth act takes place in a Salem jail cell later in the fall. Marshal Herrick enters with a lantern, nearly drunk, and wakes up Sarah Good . Tituba is also in the cell. She says that they will be going to Barbados as soon as the Devil arrives. Hopkins , a guard, tells them that the Deputy Governor has arrived. Danforth discusses with Hathorne whether it is wise to allow the increasingly mad-looking Parris to spend so much time with the prisoners. Cheever remarks on the many cows wandering the streets, now that their masters are in jail. Hale has been begging Rebecca Nurse to admit to witchcraft.

Parris arrives and tells Danforth that Abigail has vanished with Mercy Lewis . They have taken Parris' strongbox and he is now penniless. Parris claims that there are rumors of a rebellion against the witchcraft proceedings in Andover. Hathorne reminds Parris that all have been happy with the Salem executions, but Parris reminds him that Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor are respected members of the community and their executions will not be taken as well. Parris suggests postponing these hangings, and admits that there seems to be dissatisfaction, as shown by the low turnout at Proctor's excommunication.

Parris worries for his safety, having found a dagger at his doorway. Danforth refuses postponement, as it would show weakness on his part. Danforth summons Elizabeth Proctor . Hale tells Elizabeth that he does not want Proctor to die, as he would then consider himself a murderer. He tells Elizabeth that God damns a liar less than a person who throws one's life away. Elizabeth claims that this is a devil's argument, but Hale says that we are not capable of reading God's will. Danforth wonders if there is any wifely tenderness in Elizabeth. Elizabeth asks to speak with her husband. Herrick brings in Proctor, who is now bearded and filthy. Proctor asks about Elizabeth's unborn child and the boys, who are kept by Rebecca's son Samuel. Elizabeth tells Proctor that Giles is dead; he would not answer to his indictment and the court pressed him to death, laying stones on his chest until he pleaded aye or nay. His last words were "more weight."

Proctor asks Elizabeth what she would think if he confessed, but Elizabeth says that she cannot judge him. She says that she will have him do what he wishes, but she does want him alive. Proctor says that he cannot mount the gibbet as a saint, as he is not a saint like Goody Nurse. Elizabeth says that she has her own sins to account for, and blames herself for forcing her husband to turn to lechery. Proctor states to Hathorne that he will confess himself, but he asks Elizabeth once again if it is evil. She answers that she cannot judge, but he asks in return who will judge him. When they demand a written confession, Proctor asks why he must sign. Danforth says it is for the good instruction of the village.

The guards bring in Rebecca Nurse, who is astonished that John is confessing. Proctor refuses to say that he saw Rebecca Nurse in the Devil's company, or anybody else. Danforth demands that Proctor prove the purity of his soul by accusing others, but Hale advises that it is enough that he confess himself. Parris agrees, but Danforth once again demands that Proctor sign the document. Proctor says that he has confessed to God, and that is enough. He asks Danforth whether a good penitence must be public. Proctor asks how he can teach his children to walk like men when he has sold his friends. Proctor wishes to keep only his name, and Danforth thus refuses to accept his confession. Danforth orders Proctor to be hanged. Hale begs Elizabeth to plead with Proctor to sign a confession, but Elizabeth states that Proctor has his goodness now, and God forbid she take it from him.

The fourth act of The Crucible largely concerns the perversion of justice that has occurred in Salem. Miller demonstrates this immediately in the comic interlude that opens the act. Tituba and Sarah Good are foolish comic foils whose claims of communing with Satan are intended to be absurd. Yet while these women are spared the gallows because they have confessed to witchcraft, those like Rebecca Nurse who refuse to admit to a crime they did not commit remain sentenced to execution. This large-scale inversion of justice is reflected in the larger workings of Salem society. As Parris claims, there is the possibility of rebellion because of the witchcraft trials, while the numerous people who remain in jail have caused the village to fall into shambles. This is yet another example of the irony of the witchcraft trials: while they meant to preserve the order of society, the trials throw Salem into a state of anarchy and rebellion.

However, since the previous act there has been a shift in the public opinion concerning the trials. Miller indicates that the citizens of Salem supported the trials when the victims were obviously disreputable members of the community, but the executions of respected figures like Goody Nurse are much more controversial. This reinforces the idea that the Salem witch trials were in part vindictive; the purpose of the trials was not to remove witches from Salem, but rather to remove certain members of the community for other reasons. For the citizens of Salem, the executions only become unacceptable when they involve those honored members of the community, even if the charges against them have the same proof, or lack thereof, as those against the disreputable Bridget Bishop or Sarah Osburn. The implications of this are wholly cynical: the shift in public opinion is not a turn toward justice but rather an expression of personal preference.

If there is a sense of justice in The Crucible, it is meted out to Reverend Parris and Abigail Williams in this act. Reverend Parris reveals himself to be a fool capable of being easily manipulated by Abigail Williams, whose guilt seems obvious thanks to her sudden escape from town and theft of Parris' savings. However, even with these revelations casting further doubt on the validity of Abigail's charges, the Salem court continues with the trials and executions. The trials have taken on a life of their own, separate from the accusations of the principals, who set legal machinations in motion that even they cannot stop. This fulfills the theme of snowballing accusations that Miller established early in the play. The accusations began with Abigail Williams, but now, supported by the weight of the judiciary, the prosecution does not stop with her downfall.

Contrasting considerations of self-interest lead Danforth and Parris to beg John Proctor to confess to witchcraft. While Parris fears for his physical safety, Deputy Governor Danforth operates to defend the court from further attack. The change in Danforth's overt motivation is important. Previously, Danforth meant to uphold the integrity of the court, but here he suggests corruption to simply preserve the political stature of the government. Indeed, he even worries that postponing the executions would show the court's weakness. By prompting Proctor to give an obviously false confession, Danforth indicates that he likely believes that the witchcraft allegations are false. This fully demonstrates how the witch hunts have gained a life of their own; considerations of reputation and the political dynamic lead the court to continue with prosecutions and executions even when the original proponents of the trials are proven disreputable, and even when the political officials who run these trials show serious doubt in the validity of the charges.

The final passages of The Crucible concern ideas of martyrdom and justice. Miller places three of the accused as possible martyrs, each representing different methods and approaches to self-sacrifice. Giles Corey , the first of the noble victims of the trials, remains the comic tragedian even in the throes of his death. He does not passively accept the decision of the court, but struggles against the court's charges. Even when Giles Corey dies at the hands of the court, he chooses the mode of execution that will allow his sons to still inherit his property. In contrast, Rebecca Nurse accepts her fate passively, a long-suffering martyr to the court's injustice. Unlike the truculent Giles Corey, Rebecca Nurse only displays those most Christian qualities of resignation and turning the other cheek.

The critical test for John Proctor in this act is whether he will accept the martyrdom of Giles Corey and Rebecca Nurse or choose self-interest. Proctor himself proposes the question of whether a sinful man may accept martyrdom by clinging to principles he has not always upheld. The saintly Rebecca Nurse may accept martyrdom because it suits her character, but the sinful Proctor questions whether or not it is hypocrisy to stand for his principles when he is an overt sinner. Miller implies that Proctor may choose self-sacrifice because it is not a question simply of his reputation, but that of his family and his community. Proctor may not be an exemplar in all matters, but he could not serve as a father to his children if he were to so readily give up his name to preserve himself.

The second question of this act is whether it is a worse sin to lie to save oneself or to allow oneself to die. This is the fulfillment of the theme of self-preservation that has recurred throughout the novel. While Hale says that God damns a liar less than a person who throws his life away, Elizabeth calls this the devil's argument. Miller seems to support Elizabeth's position, for it is by giving self-preserving lies that Tituba and Sarah Good perpetuated the witch hunts.

Elizabeth Proctor serves as the moral conscience in this act of The Crucible. It is she who puts forth the most prominent arguments for Proctor accepting his own death, despite her stated wish that she wants her husband to remain alive. This could be interpreted as another manifestation of Elizabeth's cold nature, for she remains seemingly more concerned about abstract moral principles than her husband's life; Danforth even questions whether Elizabeth has any tenderness for her husband at all. Elizabeth is not to be played as a cold character, however. She refuses to influence her husband's decision despite her own wishes – he has earned her respect as a free moral agent, and she loves him all the more for his ability to make the right decision on his own.

The negotiations between Proctor and Danforth concerning his confession illustrate the theme of public versus private redemption. Proctor insists that his penitence remain private, while Danforth requires a public declaration of guilt and a further condemnation of other witches. It is this critical factor that allows Proctor to accept his martyrdom when he chooses to sacrifice himself to stop the perpetuation of the witchcraft accusations. Proctor thus answers his own concern about martyrdom, ending his life with an action that remains indisputably noble dispute the sins he has previously committed. He dies with his own name intact because, unlike so many others in front of the Salem court and the House Un-American Activities Committee, he refused to name names.

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The Crucible Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Crucible is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Compare Hale’s and Parris’s perspectives toward those accused of witchcraft who await execution. What motivates their perspectives toward the accused?

Parris likes to portray himself as a holy man but is actually a petulant greedy man who will use accusations of witchery to solidify his power in the community. Hale is an honest man, but he is blinded by his beliefs. Near the end of the play,...

what two people in act 1 are opposed to seeking witches

You might consider people like John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey....

How is the Puritan society's belief in superstition first made clear to us ? Quote to support your answer

The following excerpt comes from Act I/ Scene 1, when Goody Putnam says she has seen Betty fly, and that she believes her own daughter has been touched by the devil. The claims terrify Parris who thinks that if the gossips get ahold of these...

Study Guide for The Crucible

The Crucible is a play by Arthur Miller. The Crucible study guide contains a biography of Arthur Miller, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

Essays for The Crucible

The Crucible essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Lesson Plan for The Crucible

Wikipedia Entries for The Crucible

summary of act 4 the crucible

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summary of act 4 the crucible

Arthur Miller

Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 1

Act IV begins in the Salem jail. Marshall Herrick wakes up Sarah Good and Tituba to move them to a different cell. Sarah and Tituba tell Herrick that they are waiting for the Devil. They plan to fly to Barbados with the Devil.

Several months have passed since the action in the play began. Act I opened in the spring of 1692, and the season is now fall. The court has already executed twelve people from Salem, and has scheduled seven more to die today.

Although Tituba was told in Act I that she would be spared if she revealed her alliance with the Devil, along with her knowledge of other individuals "in truck" with the Devil, she has in fact been imprisoned. Sarah and Tituba have been in prison so long that they have come to believe that they are in league with the Devil. Cold weather, deplorable living conditions, and the lack of food have made them delusional. They tell Herrick that the Devil will transform them into birds so that they can fly to Barbados. Having internalized the accusations of witchcraft, they now use them to create an escape from their situation.

Herrick's willingness to join Sarah and Tituba is noteworthy because he is no longer afraid of the idea of the Devil, nor is he afraid of Sarah or Tituba. At this point in the play the paranoia only remains within the court. The people of Salem have grown weary of the witch trials and the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty they have created.

rile to anger; irritate.

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summary of act 4 the crucible

summary of act 4 the crucible

The Crucible Act 4 Summary

The Crucible: Act Four In The Crucible by Arthur Miller the Salem witch trials in Northeast Massachusetts in 1692 is a big event which also causes a lot of conflict. This act takes place in a Salem prison jail cell during fall a few months after act three. There are several hangs scheduled during this act resulting after the whole story. These hangs are scheduled whether the people are accused or guilty with no exceptions. While this act takes place in a Salem prison jail cell Sarah Good and Tituba think that the devil has come to take them both back to Barbados. When the “devil” enters they realize that it is just Marshal Herrick who has only come to move place them into a different cell. When Hathorne and Danforth …show more content…

When Paris returns he answers Hathorne and Danforth’s question about Hale. His answer was that Hale had returned to convince the ones convicted of witchcraft that if they confess to their crimes that it will save their lives which Danforth is surprised and pleased about. Parris then reveals that Abigail robbed him of thirty one pounds and then left with Mercy Lewis. He then thinks they left after hearing about a revolt against the witch trials in the nearby town of Andover. Parris fears a similar problem in Salem now that people with social influence, like Rebecca and Proctor, are scheduled to hang. He begs them to postpone the hangings but Danforth refuses. After Danforth refused to postpone the hangings he receives threats regarding his position in the trials and is then scared for his safety. Hale returns and he demands pardons for those that are convicted. Danforth states how twelve others have been hanged for the same charges and the pardons for those remaining would crack the God’s voice “whimpering”. Though Hale thinks that a week postponement would seem like mercy to the public and not weakness, Danforth simply disagrees. Danforth then tries to get Proctor to confess

In this essay, the author

Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible': Plot Summary

The salem witch trials come to life on stage.

Written in the early 1950s, Arthur Miller’s play "The Crucible" takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, during the 1692  Salem witch trials . This was a time when paranoia, hysteria, and deceit gripped the Puritan towns of New England. Miller captured the events in a riveting story that is now considered a modern classic in the theater. He wrote it during the "Red Scare" of the 1950s and used the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for the "witch hunts" of communists in America. 

"The Crucible" has been adapted for the screen twice. The first film was in 1957, directed by Raymond Rouleau and the second was in 1996, starring Winona Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis.

As we look at a summary of each of the four acts in "The Crucible," notice how Miller adds plot twists with a complex array of characters. It is historical fiction, based on documentation of the famous trials and is a compelling production for any actor or theatergoer. 

"The Crucible": Act One

The initial scenes take place in the home of Reverend Parris , the town’s spiritual leader. His ten-year-old daughter, Betty, lies in bed, unresponsive. She and the other local girls spent the previous evening performing a ritual while dancing in the wilderness. Abigail , Parris’ seventeen-year-old niece, is the "wicked" leader of the girls.

Mr. and Mrs. Putnam, loyal followers of Parris, are very concerned for their own sickly daughter. The Putnams are the first to openly suggest that witchcraft is plaguing the town. They insist that Parris root out the witches within the community. Not surprisingly, they suspect anyone who despises Reverend Parris, or any member who fails to attend church on a regular basis.

Halfway through Act One, the play's tragic hero, John Proctor , enters the Parris household to check on the still comatose Betty. He seems uncomfortable to be alone with Abigail.

Through dialogue, we learn that young Abigail used to work in the Proctors' home, and the seemingly humble farmer Proctor had an affair with her seven months ago. When John Proctor's wife found out, she sent Abigail away from their home. Since then, Abigail has been scheming to remove Elizabeth Proctor so that she can claim John to herself.

Reverend Hale , a self-proclaimed specialist in the art of detecting witches, enters the Parris household. John Proctor is quite skeptical of Hale’s purpose and soon leaves for home.

Hale confronts Tituba, Reverend Parris' enslaved woman from Barbados, pressuring her to admit her association with the Devil. Tituba believes that the only way to avoid being executed is to lie, so she begins to invent stories about being in league with the Devil.

Abigail then sees her chance to stir up an enormous amount of mayhem. She behaves as though she is bewitched. When the curtain draws on Act One, the audience realizes that every person mentioned by the girls is in severe danger.

"The Crucible": Act Two

Set in Proctor’s home, the act begins by showing the daily life of John and Elizabeth. The protagonist has returned from seeding his farmland. Here, their dialogue reveals that the couple is still coping with tension and frustration relative to John's affair with Abigail. Elizabeth cannot yet trust her husband. Likewise, John has not yet forgiven himself.

Their marital problems shift, however, when Reverend Hale appears at their door. We learn that many women, including the saintly Rebecca Nurse, have been arrested on the charge of witchcraft. Hale is suspicious of the Proctor family because they don’t go to church every Sunday.

Moments later, officials from Salem arrive. Much to Hale’s surprise, they arrest Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail has accused her of witchcraft and attempted murder via black magic and voodoo dolls. John Proctor promises to free her, but he is enraged by the injustice of the situation.

"The Crucible": Act Three

John Proctor convinces one of the "spellbound" girls, his servant Mary Warren, to admit that they were only pretending during all of their demonic fits. The court is overseen by Judge Hawthorne and Judge Danforth, two very serious men who self-righteously believe that they can never be fooled.

John Proctor brings forth Mary Warren who very timidly explains that she and the girls have never seen any spirits or devils. Judge Danforth does not want to believe this.

Abigail and the other girls enter the courtroom. They defy the truth that Mary Warren tries to reveal. This charade angers John Proctor and, in a violent outburst, he calls Abigail a harlot. He reveals their affair. Abigail vehemently denies it. John swears that his wife can confirm the affair. He emphasizes that his wife never lies.

To determine the truth, Judge Danforth summons Elizabeth into the courtroom. Hoping to save her husband, Elizabeth denies that her husband had ever been with Abigail. Unfortunately, this dooms John Proctor.

Abigail leads the girls in a make-believe fit of possession. Judge Danforth is convinced that Mary Warren has gained a supernatural hold upon the girls. Frightened for her life, Mary Warren claims that she too is possessed and that John Proctor is "the Devil’s man." Danforth places John under arrest.

"The Crucible": Act Four

Three months later, John Proctor is chained in a dungeon. Twelve members of the community have been executed for witchcraft. Many others, including Tituba and Rebecca Nurse, sit in jail, awaiting hanging. Elizabeth is still incarcerated, but since she is pregnant she won’t be executed for at least another year.

The scene reveals a very distraught Reverend Parris. Several nights ago, Abigail ran away from home, stealing his life savings in the process.

He now realizes that if well-loved townspeople such as Proctor and Rebecca Nurse are executed, the citizens might retaliate with sudden and extreme violence. Therefore, he and Hale have been trying to solicit confessions from the prisoners in order to spare them from the hangman’s noose.

Rebecca Nurse and the other prisoners choose not to lie, even at the cost of their lives. John Proctor, however, does not want to die like a martyr. He wants to live.

Judge Danforth states that if John Proctor signs a written confession his life will be saved. John reluctantly agrees. They also pressure him to implicate others, but John is unwilling to do this.

Once he signs the document, he refuses to hand over the confession. He doesn’t want his name to be posted to the door of the church. He declares, “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” Judge Danforth demands the confession. John Proctor rips it to pieces.

The judge condemns Proctor to hang. He and Rebecca Nurse are taken to the gallows. Hale and Parris are both devastated. They urge Elizabeth to plead with John and the judge so that he might be spared. However, Elizabeth, on the verge of collapse, says, “He has his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!”

The curtains close with the eerie sound of drums rattling. The audience knows that John Proctor and the others are moments away from execution.

summary of act 4 the crucible

summary of act 4 the crucible

summary of act 4 the crucible

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The Crucible Act IV

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This activity centers on a short video summary by Course Hero of Act III of The Crucible , and is intended to serve as a replacement for a reading of the entire act. Included in the activity is a full transcript of the video, and each sentence is separated by bullet points for ease of reading/following the script. Students are then prompted to answer a series of questions, where they will be asked to define potentially unfamiliar terms featured in the video and to think critically about the events in the act and how they affect the story as a whole.

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summary of act 4 the crucible

The Crucible

Arthur miller, everything you need for every book you read., john proctor, reverend parris, reverend hale, elizabeth proctor, abigail williams.

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The Crucible Act 4 part 1 Summary

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  1. Act 4 The Crucible Quotes

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  2. The crucible act 4

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  3. The Crucible Act 1 Summary

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  4. The Crucible Short Summary Of Act 2

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  5. The Crucible Act 4 Summary

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  6. Best Crucible Act 4 Summary

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  6. The Crucible Act IV


  1. The Crucible Act IV & Epilogue Summary & Analysis

    Summary: Act IV How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! See Important Quotes Explained That fall, Danforth and Hathorne visit a Salem jail to see Parris. Parris, worn and gaunt, greets them. They demand to know why Reverend Hale has returned to Salem.

  2. The Crucible Act 4 Summary & Analysis

    The Crucible: Act 4 Summary & Analysis Next Themes Themes and Colors Key Summary Analysis In a cell in the Salem prison a few months later, Sarah Good and Tituba think that the devil has come to take them to Barbados. But it's just Marshal Herrick, come to move them to a different cell.

  3. Best Crucible Act 4 Summary

    The Crucible Act 4 Summary—Short Version Act 4 opens with Herrick removing Tituba and Sarah Good from a jail cell so the court officials can hold a meeting there. Reverend Hale and Reverend Parris are off praying with the other condemned prisoners, which is unsettling to Danforth and Hathorne.

  4. The Crucible: Full Play Summary

    Full Play Summary In the Puritan New England town of Salem, Massachusetts, a group of girls goes dancing in the forest with a black slave named Tituba. While dancing, they are caught by the local minister, Reverend Parris. One of the girls, Parris's daughter Betty, falls into a coma-like state.

  5. The Crucible Act Four Summary and Analysis

    The Crucible Summary and Analysis of Act Four The fourth act takes place in a Salem jail cell later in the fall. Marshal Herrick enters with a lantern, nearly drunk, and wakes up Sarah Good. Tituba is also in the cell. She says that they will be going to Barbados as soon as the Devil arrives.

  6. The Crucible Act 4 Summary

    Act 4 focuses squarely on the theme of reputation, showing the disparities between the morality of certain characters and their concern for their reputation. Judge Hathorne continues to bare his remorseless and merciless personality with his insinuations and pronouncements.

  7. The Crucible by Arthur Miller: Act 4

    Act 4 of The Crucible shows how the town of Salem has deteriorated in the months since the trials. Mr. Cheever tells the judges that cows wander throughout the town because so many of the...

  8. Scene 4

    The Crucible Scene 4 Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 4 Summary Proctor confesses orally to witchcraft, but refuses to implicate anyone else. Danforth informs him that the court needs proof of his confession in the form of a signed, written testimony. Proctor confesses verbally to witchcraft, and Rebecca Nurse hears the confession.

  9. The Crucible by Arthur Miller: Act 4

    Analysis of The Crucible Act 4 Act 4 is the final act of the play The Crucible. John Proctor is given a chance to save himself from the gallows by signing a confession. Although this...

  10. The Crucible Act Summaries

    Read More. Act 1 (Reverend John Hale Arrives) Reverend John Hale, a young minister from Beverly, Massachusetts, and a renowned witchcraft expert, enters the room. He ... Read More. Act 2 (John and Elizabeth Quarrel) As Act 2 begins John Proctor returns from seeding the fields for the summer crop and is pleased to hear his wife, Elizab...

  11. Scene 1

    Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 1. Summary. Act IV begins in the Salem jail. Marshall Herrick wakes up Sarah Good and Tituba to move them to a different cell. Sarah and Tituba tell Herrick that they are waiting for the Devil. They plan to fly to Barbados with the Devil. Analysis. Several months have passed since the action in the play began.

  12. The Crucible Act IV Summary

    The Crucible Act IV Summary BACK NEXT Setting: a Salem jail cell Herrick comes in, drunk, and nudges Sarah Good to wake her up. Tituba also wakes up. Herrick tells the two of them to get out of there. He asks where they're going and Tituba says they're going to Barbados.

  13. Crucible Act 4- FULL TEXT.pdf

    Crucible Act 4- FULL TEXT.pdf. Sign In. Displaying Crucible Act 4- FULL TEXT.pdf. ...

  14. The Crucible Act 4 Summary

    The Crucible: Act Four In The Crucible by Arthur Miller the Salem witch trials in Northeast Massachusetts in 1692 is a big event which also causes a lot of conflict. This act takes place in a Salem prison jail cell during fall a few months after act three. There are several hangs scheduled during this act resulting after the whole story.

  15. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

    The Crucible chapter summary in under 5 minutes! Arthur Miller's classic play The Crucible is an allegory for McCarthyism, set in the Salem witch trials. Pro...

  16. Plot Summary of 'The Crucible': A Play by Arthur Miller

    "The Crucible": Act One The initial scenes take place in the home of Reverend Parris, the town's spiritual leader. His ten-year-old daughter, Betty, lies in bed, unresponsive. She and the other local girls spent the previous evening performing a ritual while dancing in the wilderness.

  17. The Crucible Act IV

    Act IV Setting: a Salem jail cell Herrick comes in, drunk, and nudges Sarah Good to wake her up. Tituba also wakes up. Herrick tells the two of them to get out of there. He asks where they're going and Tituba says they're going to Barbados. When they hear a cow bellowing, Tituba says it is "the majesty" and calls out for it to take her home.

  18. The Crucible, Act III Summary Activity by Faking It Well

    Description. This activity centers on a short video summary by Course Hero of Act III of The Crucible, and is intended to serve as a replacement for a reading of the entire act. Included in the activity is a full transcript of the video, and each sentence is separated by bullet points for ease of reading/following the script.

  19. The Crucible Character Analysis

    Abigail Williams. The 17-year-old niece of Reverend Parris. Marauding Native Americans killed Abigail's parents when Abigail was young. While a servant in John Proctor 's household, Abigail briefly became John's lover before Elizabeth found out and fired… read analysis of Abigail Williams.

  20. The Crucible Act 4 part 1 Summary

    The Crucible Act 4 part 1 Summary. Act four takes place in the Salem jail a few months later. It begins with Marshal Herrick checking on two of the first witches accused: Tituba and Sarah Good. They have sat in jail a long time and are dirty, undernourished, and bordering on crazy. Danforth enters and asks Herrick where he can find Reverend Parris.