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PROCTOR: I'd have you see some honesty in it. Let them that never lied die now to keep their souls. It is pretense for me, a vanity that will not blind God nor keep my children out of the wind. Pause. What say you?
ELIZABETH, upon a heaving sob that always threatens: John, it come to naught that I should forgive you, if you'll not forgive yourself. Now he turns away a little, in great agony. It is not my soul, John, it is yours. He stands, as though in physical pain, slowly rising to his feet with a great immortal longing to find his answer. It is difficult to say, and she is on the verge of tears. Only be sure of this, for I know it now: Whatever you will do, it is a good man does it. He turns his doubting, searching gaze upon her. I have read my heart this three month, John. Pause. I have sins of my own to count. It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery.
PROCTOR, in great pain: Enough, enough-
ELIZABETH, now pouring out her heart: Better you should know me!
PROCTOR: I will not hear it! I know you!
ELIZABETH: You take my sins upon you, John-
PROCTOR, in agony: No, I take my own, my own!
ELIZABETH: John, I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me! Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should say my love. It were a cold house I kept! In fright, she swerves, as Hathorne enters.
HATHORNE: What say you, Proctor? The sun is soon up.
Proctor, his chest heaving, stares, turns to Elizabeth. She comes to him as though to plead, her voice quaking.
ELIZABETH: Do what you will. But let none be your judge. There be no higher judge under Heaven than Proctor is! Forgive me, forgive me, John--I never knew such goodness in the world! She covers her face, weeping.
Proctor turns from her to Hathorne; he is off the earth, his voice hollow.
PROCTOR: I want my life. (IV.204-214)
Elizabeth’s forgiveness makes John Proctor want to keep on living, even if he must live dishonestly. He decides to confess.