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The Character of John Proctor in The Crucible

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In the novel The Crucible, author Arthur Miller uses varying degrees of goodness and evil to control the flow of the story while showcasing a Puritan town's superstitions and fear of the devil to justify the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  The central character in Salem is John Proctor, an outspoken, successful, and well-respected farmer who chooses to maintain a certain distance from the church.  Religious at heart, this man who has sinned, openly condemns the witch trials while hiding a secret that could discredit the main accuser, Abigail Williams.  John Proctor is a man consumed by guilt, who draws on his contempt for Reverend Parris, his love for his wife, and his need to take responsibility for his actions to gain the strength of character it takes to publicly confess his sins, denounce Abigail Williams, and save his soul.


      As soon as Reverend Parris is appointed to the church in Salem John Proctor begins to resent the minister's superior attitude and greed.  An outspoken man, Proctor takes every opportunity to criticize Reverend Parris and the now corrupt church.  This resentment leads John to use his wife Elizabeth's illness as an excuse to stay away from Sunday services, a decision that will come back to haunt the Proctors in the future.  On the very first day that the town starts buzzing about witches, John questions Reverend Parris' motives in front of several of Salem's most prominent citizens when he learns that Parris has sent for the Reverend John Hale, an expert on witches, without calling a

town meeting first.  A firm believer that the citizens should decide on Salem's course of action; John uses this situation ...

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      In his determination to gain back his strength of character, John Proctor uses his contempt for Reverend Parris, his undying love for his wife, and his need to take responsibility for his actions to admit his sins, denounce Abigail Williams, and save his soul during the Salem Witch Trials.  In the novel The Crucible, Arthur Miller's portrayal of John Proctor, as a religious, outspoken, well-respected farmer, who is consumed by guilt helps Miller project Proctor as the story's central character.  Miller's use of goodness and evil highlights this Puritan society's dependence on religious values.  The very nature of Salem's superstitious people causes the witchcraft hysteria and allows the

town to put innocent people to death because of their fear of the devil.


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