The extent to which the hysteria has impacted the town is depicted in the final act of The Crucible. Those who have been incarcerated have reached a state of delirium, notably Sarah Good, who is known to be loyal to God, yet looks forward to the Devil taking her to Barbados. The setting in the dark, gloomy prison symbolises the abyss the conflict has created. It is also a reflection on the darkness the conflict has left on Salem.
At the height of the conflict, Hale deserted his job due to his discontent with the court system. However, his guilty conscience which has affected him physically and emotionally, ‘steeped in sorrow, exhausted’ [pg 113] has led him back to Salem in the hope of at least helping some of those damned. Hale is one of the few in the play who accepts their past mistakes and aims to amend them.
Danforth, Hathorne and Parris’s intentions are yet again self-absorbed. Although Danforth and Hathorne rebuke Parris for allowing Hale to access the jail, when they realise that Hale can help them establish a compassionate theocracy, their acceptance of his presence in the jail further highlights their egocentrism.
Proctor’s inner conflict with his past sins is a major motivational force for his refusal to sign a false confession. Although his name has been blemished, he begins to see that there is some good left in him since he will not give into the theocracy’s demands that he associated with the Devil. By standing up for himself, he also stood for his friends including Giles, by defending their respected reputations in town. Through this act, Proctor is able to overcome his feelings of self-worthlessness and moral inferiority as he realises that he can still achieve some good in his short life.
The tension between Proctor and Elizabeth has ceased since the two have been separated for three months. Ironically, it is this separation from Proctor through which Elizabeth is finally able to show her feelings towards him. By declaring that she was also to blame for their crumbling relationship, she oversteps her barrier of coldness towards her husband, revealing that she still loves him. Their passionate kiss symbolises both of them overcoming their martial problems as well as to some extent, both their personal conflicts.
The ending of The Crucible, ‘drums rattle like bones in the morning air’ [pg 126] leaves a feeling of uneasiness, illustrating that although the conflict in Salem has ended, the damage it has caused is still present. The ‘sun…pouring in upon her face’ demonstrates that the people of Salem have endured through the darkness of the conflict to finally reach enlightenment for the truth behind the hysterical witch-hunts. ‘The new sun’ perhaps symbolises a new era where its warmth will begin to fill the lives of those damaged by the insanity in Salem.