What Is the Shred of Goodness John Proctor Finds in Himself in Act Iv?

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“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 feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” This speech is said by John Proctor near to the end of Act IV a moment before he tears up his confession; it is the moment where he finds the shred of goodness in himself. To understand how he finds it, we first need to understand the moral battle and journey the Proctor goes through.

John Proctor is easily identified as The Crucible’s protagonist. Proctor was a stand-up man who spoke his mind. His name was synonymous with honour and integrity within the community. Proctor
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After signing his confession, Danforth needs the confession to be nailed upon the church door for all to see, yet Proctor refuses to give it to him, Proctor says, “I have confessed myself! Is there no good penitence but it be in public? God does not need my name; God knows how black my sins are! It is enough!”. If Proctor were to have given his confession to Danforth, he would have ultimately sold his soul, though he would have saved his life, his goodness would have been forever out of his reach. The community knows John Proctor as a good man and in this final act is at peace with himself, as he says, “For now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs”. Proctor knew that his lie would not have been worse than the people he would have given it to.

The journey Proctor takes to regain his self-respect and to find that shred of goodness is a long one, but in the end Proctor is at peace with himself and realises that he is in fact a good man, he may not die as a saint but he is a far better man than those who are hanging