The Crucible

by: Arthur Miller

What Does the Ending Mean?

Summary What Does the Ending Mean?

After having signed, then ripped up his confession, John Proctor declares that he cannot throw away his good name in a lie, even though doing so would save his life. He chooses to die. As John is led away to his execution, Rev. Hale begs Elizabeth to go after him to change his mind, but she refuses, saying that he finally has his goodness, and she won’t take that away from him. The ending resolves the central conflict of the play: will John Proctor turn out to be a good man or not? Throughout the play, John has made both good and bad moral choices. He tries to be a good husband to Elizabeth. When she is in danger, he tries to save her, even sacrificing his own reputation to do so. But we also learn that he had an affair with Abigail, and that even though the affair is over, John still looks at Abigail “softly” from time to time. He is cruel to Mary Warren. He initially signs a confession even though he knows in his heart that it’s wrong to do so, despite what Rev. Hale says. But in the end, John’s refusal to dishonor himself, even at the cost of his own life, shows that he is ultimately a good man. The price of this goodness is death. As Elizabeth says, he “have his goodness now” and she won’t take it from him.