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PROCTOR, laughs insanely, then: A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud – God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together! (III.596-601)
Proctor’s guilt complex comes out strongly in this quote. It’s obvious to the reader the Proctor is a more honest and virtuous guy than Danforth, but he insists on lumping himself in with his enemies. It’s a kind of self-inflicted punishment for his sin of adultery. At the same time, there is truth to his claim that the Devil, if he exists at all, exists within people, and not through ghosts or spirits.
PROCTOR: You will not use me! I am no Sarah Good or Tituba, I am John Proctor! You will not use me! It is no part of salvation that you should use me!
DANFORTH: I do not wish to-
PROCTOR: 1 have three children-how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?
DANFORTH: You have not sold your friends-
PROCTOR: Beguile me not! I blacken all of them when this is nailed to the church the very day they hang for silence!
DANFORTH: Mr. Proctor, I must have good and legal proof that you-
PROCTOR: You are the high court, your word is good enough! Tell them I confessed myself; say Proctor broke his knees and wept like a woman; say what you will, but my name cannot –
DANFORTH, with suspicion: It is the same, is it not? If I report it or you sign to it?
PROCTOR – he knows it is insane: No, it is not the same! What others say and what I sign to is not the same!
DANFORTH: Why? Do you mean to deny this confession when you are free?
PROCTOR: I mean to deny nothing!
DANFORTH: Then explain to me, Mr. Proctor, why you will not let-
PROCTOR, with a cry of his whole soul: 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!
DANFORTH, pointing at the confession in Proctor's hand: Is that document a lie? If it is a lie I will not accept it! What say you? I will not deal in lies, Mister! Proctor is motionless. You will give me your honest confession in my hand, or I cannot keep you from the rope. Proctor does not reply. Which way do you go, Mister?
His breast heaving, his eyes staring, Proctor tears the paper and crumples it. (IV.281-294)
Danforth’s notion of justice is patently absurd. He realizes that Proctor’s confession is a lie – but without the confession, he cannot spare Proctor’s life. Justice is hung by his own faulty legal reasoning.