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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."


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ISSN: 2152-1123