Proctor bravely faces death

Both John and Elizabeth Proctor were found guilty, and on August 5, 1693, they went to court to receive their sentences. Present in the courtroom were thirty-one of John's friends from Ipswich and twenty-one neighbors from Salem Village, who came to express their support. At the risk of being incriminated themselves, they had signed a petition declaring Proctor's innocence and citing his position as an upstanding member of the community. Their appeal had no effect on the courts, however, because the judges were already determined to see Proctor die:declaring him innocent at this point would have caused too many questions about other cases. John was condemned as a wizard and on August 19 was taken with five others to be hanged on Gallows Hill. Before being executed he made a final plea for justice. In the words of Thomas Brattle, a witness to the execution, Proctor and his fellow condemned prisoners:

protested their innocency as in the presence of the great God whom forthwith they were to appear before. They wished, and declared their wish, that their blood might be the last innocent blood shed upon that account. With great affection they entreated Cotton Mather to pray with them. They prayed that God would discover what witchcrafts were among us. They forgave their accusers. They spake without reflection on jury and judges for bringing them in guilty and condemning them. They prayed earnestly for pardon of all other sins and for an interest

in the precious blood of our Redeemer, and seemed to be very sincere, upright, and sensible of their circumstances on all accounts, especially Proctor and [John] Willard, whose whole management of themselves from jail to the gallows and whilst at the gallows was very affecting and melting to the hearts. (From Chadwick Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem.)

Many years later, the families of those who were sentenced to hang were given compensation for their losses. Reproduced by permission of the Corbis Corporation (Bellevue).

in the precious blood of our Redeemer, and seemed to be very sincere, upright, and sensible of their circumstances on all accounts, especially Proctor and [John] Willard, whose whole management of themselves from jail to the gallows and whilst at the gallows was very affecting and melting to the hearts. (From Chadwick Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem.)

Although Elizabeth Proctor was also sentenced to die, she "pleaded her belly" (pregnancy) and was allowed to wait in jail until her baby was born; she finally received a pardon. Yet her husband had left her nothing in his will, so she was faced with the task of raising six children only on her barely cleared name.

Nearly two decades later the Proctor family did receive payment for the losses they incurred during the trials. In 1710 Salem villager Isaac Easty appealed to the court for compensation for the loss of his wife Mary, who was executed. As stated in A Delusion of Satan, acknowledging that nothing could make up for his "sorrow and trouble of heart in being deprived of her

Many years later, the families of those who were sentenced to hang were given compensation for their losses. Reproduced by permission of the Corbis Corporation (Bellevue).

in such a manner," he delared that the courts should render justice to him and the families of other victims. Easty's action prompted relatives of executed witches Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Wildes, Mary Bradbury, George Burroughs, Giles and Martha Corey, and Rebecca Nurse to submit similar pleas. The courts granted a sum of 578 pounds (British money) to be split among the families of victims according to their financial status prior to the trials. According to A Delusion of Satan, the Proctors received 150 pounds, a major portion of the final settlement. In contrast, the family of Elizabeth Howe was awarded only 12 pounds.

For Further Reading

The Crucible. Twentieth Century Fox, 1998. Videocassette recording.

Hansen, Chadwick. Witchcraft at Salem. New York: George Braziller, 1969.

Hill, Frances. A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials. New York: Dou-bleday, 1995.

Kallen, Stuart A. The Salem Witch Trials. San Diego, California: Lucent Books, 1999.

Rice, Earle, Jr. The Salem Witch Trials. San Diego, California: Lucent Books, 1997.

The Salem Witch Museum. [Online] http:// www.salemwitchmuseum.com/ (Accessed July 7, 2000).

Starkey, Marion L. The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Wilson, Lori Lee. The Salem Witch Trials. New York: Lerner, 1997.

The Crucible

John Proctor is featured as a main character in The Crucible (1953), a drama about the Salem witch trials by American playwright Arthur Miller. In the play, which has become a classic around the world, Miller examines the complex moral dilemmas confronted by Proctor, who is wrongly accused of practicing witchcraft. Through a depiction of the mass frenzy of the witch-hunts, Miller addresses the social and psychological aspects of group pressure and their effects on individual ethics, dignity, and beliefs. Although the plot and characters are based on transcripts of the trials, some of the facts have been altered for dramatic effect. The Crucible is frequently performed, and in 1996 the play was adapted as a feature film, with Daniel Day-Lewis starring as John Proctor and Winona Ryder as Abigail Williams.

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