The Crucible’s John Proctor As A Tragic Hero


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The Crucible by Arthur Miller is set in Salem in a Puritan community. John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Reverend Hale, Reverend Paris, and Abigail are the main characters. The book is about witchcraft or what the town thinks is witchcraft. John Proctor is the tragic hero because he is loving, loyal, authoritative, but his tragic flaw is his temper.
John is a loving husband. He proves that by telling Elizabeth, “It is well seasoned” (p. 48) in reference to the rabbit she cooked, in which he had to add salt to. He likes to make her happy, which shows he loves her, and so he asks, “Would that please you?” (p.48) He is asking in reference to buying a heifer for her if the crops are good. He assures her he will “fall like an ocean on that court” by which he shows his love in caring for her freedom (p.73). To the court he admits he has “known her” he is talking about Abigail and their affair (p.102). He is showing his love towards his wife by throwing away his freedom, life, honor, dignity, and pride to prove Elizabeth’s innocence and have her freedom. He tells Elizabeth to “show honor now” as he is to be hanged in the gallows (p. 133). He is showing his love for her by letting her know he cares about her enough to want her to be strong even though he is to die.

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John Proctor is a loyal man. He proves he is loyal by telling Abigail, “I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again.” (p.22) He has the chance to be unfaithful, but instead proves his loyalty. He is loyal when he tells Abigail; “You’ll speak nothing of Elizabeth!” after Abigail had insulted her by calling her sickly (22). John, while talking with Danforth, proves his loyalty to Elizabeth by speaking up for her as he is trying to get her and his friends wives out of jail. He tells Danforth “that woman will never lie” which proves his loyalty to his wife (85). He proves his loyalty to his friends when Danforth has told him Elizabeth is pregnant and will stay alive for one year by telling the judge that his friends’ wives’ “are also accused-” and standing up for them instead of just taking a year with Elizabeth (86). John shows his loyalty when he is trying to prove Elizabeth’s innocence to witchcraft. By telling the judge, “my wife is innocent!” (p.103)
John has an authoritative personality. John proves this authoritative personality when he goes to Reverend Paris’s house, to find out why there is talk of witchcraft in the town, and finds his servant, Mary Warren, who is not supposed to be there and she shays “Oh! I’m just going home,” knowing she isn’t supposed to be there (20). His first words to her indicate his authority, “Now get home” because she does not question him and simply does what he says she proves he has authority (20). He shows his authoritative personality when talking alone with Abigail. He tells her, “That’s done with” trying to end the conversation after she has asked for a soft word therefore showing his authority (21). He also shows his authority with Elizabeth about Mary Warren going into Salem after he had “forbid her to go.” (49) He has shown his authority over the hired help in his house. Later he shows his authority by getting the last words in an argument with Mary Warren, “Good night, then!” (57)
John Proctor’s tragic flaw is his temper. Though his pride does go along with his temper, the reason he was jailed at the end of the story was for having an outrageous temper. John proves he has a temper when speaking to Elizabeth about Abigail saying the dancing in the woods had nothing to do with witchcraft. Elizabeth asks him to go to the court that night. He shows his temper by raising his voice to Elizabeth and trying to end the conversation by saying, “I say I will think on it!” (51) John shows his temper when talking with Elizabeth and Mary when he “takes down the whip” (56) to threaten Mary after her saying she would be in court everyday. When speaking with Danforth about Elizabeth, John has been said to want to overthrow the courts. He shows his temper by admitting he has one stating “it were temper” ( 56) in reference to what he had said earlier in the book when Elizabeth was arrested. John is speaking to Danforth about Elizabeth keeping poppets. He is showing his temper by yelling irrationally “There might also be a dragon…but no one has ever seen it!” (96)
John Proctor was a good man. He had a temper and pride. He was much respected in the town. It was a great loss when he died. John Proctor truly was the tragic hero of The Crucible.


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