List journal issues    
Home List journal issues Table of contents Subscribe to APQ


Volume 49 • Number 1

January 2012



The Importance of Self-Forgiveness

by Byron Williston

In the climactic scene of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, John Proctor, accused of consorting with Satan, is negotiating for his life with Danforth, Salem's deputy governor. Danforth would have Proctor confess immediately or face execution. In the course of defending himself, Proctor has been forced to admit publicly to an adulterous liaison with Abigail, one of the young girls claiming to be demonically possessed. Proctor is weighed down by self-reproach and self-loathing for having betrayed his wife Elizabeth, as well as by the prospect of lying to Danforth to save his own skin. In the end he refuses to confess and goes to his death. But before making this decision, he asks Elizabeth to forgive him. She replies, "John, it should come to naught that I should forgive you, if you'll not forgive yourself." As he is being led to the gallows, Elizabeth recognizes that John has been shamed in the course of these trials and their revelations, but claims that through this process he has reclaimed "his goodness."

view PDF



Home | Issue Index
© 2012 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Content in American Philosophical Quarterly is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the American Philosophical Quarterly database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

American Philosophical Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-1123