The Crucible: Act 3 Quotes

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  • 0:05 Dangerous Dichotomies
  • 1:21 Hysteria
  • 1:57 John Proctor Confesses
  • 2:45 John Condemns Himself…
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson provides an analysis of some important quotes from Act 3 of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible.' These quotes show the terrifying strength of the warped justice system during the Salem Witch Trials.

Dangerous Dichotomies

It can be dangerous to assume there is no such thing as a middle ground. That's what a dichotomy does. It shows only the difference between two opposite things without considering gradations thereof. Judge Danforth sets up a particularly alarming dichotomy in Act 3 of Arthur Miller's The Crucible when he says ''a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.'' This is dangerous because it doesn't leave any room for asking questions, and any time a group of people is asked or commanded to follow blindly, bad things can happen.

Reverend Parris contributes to this dichotomy when he says ''All innocent and Christian people are happy for the courts in Salem!'' He is saying, therefore, that anyone who is not happy about the courts in Salem is either not innocent or not Christian, or neither! Judge Danforth also says, ''This is a sharp time now, a precise time--we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now by God's grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.'' Like Parris, Danforth is here suggesting that anyone who does not align with the court is against not just justice, but God himself.


It is not God, but hysteria, that rules over the court in Salem. Hysteria is when people lose their heads in the midst of intense emotion. Such a frenzy of fear has been whipped up among the townspeople that they have succumbed to hysteria in droves. Mary Warren provides us with a good description of exactly how hysteria gets hold of one's mind:

''I--I heard the other girls screaming, and you, Your Honor, you seemed to believe them, and I--It were only sport in the beginning, sir, but then the whole world cried spirits, spirits, and I--I promise you, Mr. Danforth, I only thought I saw them but I did not.''

John Proctor Confesses

In desperation, John Proctor tries to convince Judge Danforth of Abigail's selfish motives by confessing his affair with her. Francis Nurse, a pious, elderly man, is shocked by this revelation, and John says poignantly and miserably to him, ''Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me!'' He feels he is too wicked to be known by a man a good as Francis Nurse.

Despite the damage it does to his own reputation, John plunges on with his confession in order to reveal Abigail's selfish motives: ''She thinks to dance with me on my wife's grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore's vengeance, and you must see it; I set myself entirely in your hands. I know you must see it now.''

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