Act four begins in prison where Sarah Good and Tituba wait to be hanged.
They have gone insane and believe that Satan will take them both to Barbados.
There are rumors of an uprising in a nearby town due to similar witch trials.
The townspeople are afraid of a similar riot in Salem.
Hale and Parris are now terrified. They go to visit the innocent people in
the jail and beg them to make false confessions in order to save their lives.
Hale believes that the blood of the people who are being hanged is on his
hands. He asks Elizabeth, who is now pregnant, to tell John to confess to
save his life but Elizabeth will not. While Elizabeth is talking to John,
she tells him that she has forgiven him of his affair and tells him that he
can do as he will. John Proctor confesses that he is a witch, but will not
say the others are.
After a few moments, Proctor is fed up with the court, tears up his confession,
and goes out to be hanged with Rebecca Nurse. Hales pleads that Elizabeth
ask Proctor to confess, but she says, He has his goodness now. God forbid
I take it from him!
The story reminds its readers of an ugly blemish on human history. It reminds
us that man is not perfect, and that we can make mistakes. However, even with
these mistakes, we can cleanse ourselves and purify ourselves by making what
is wrong right. The sufferings become to the sufferer like a crucible.
This story relates to the McCarthy trials. During the 1950's Senator Joseph
McCarthy accused many American leaders of being communists. This led to many
unfounded accusations that people were communists. Some people believed him
because they were fearful of communism and he played on their fears.
McCarthy was, in effect, conducting "witch hunts". If you opposed
the Salem Witch trials you were accused of being a witch. If you opposed the
McCarthy investigations you were accused of being a communist.