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John Proctor's Moral Struggle in The Crucible

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John Proctor's Moral Struggle in The Crucible

The primary dramatic focus in the play The Crucible is the moral struggle of its protagonist, John Proctor. Certain characteristics of John Proctor's character and also the environment of the Puritanical Salem alleviated this problem for him. The main issues running through out the play are a series of dilemmas that John Proctor faces. The first and foremost of these is his guilt over his adulterous affair with Abigail Williams, the second his hesitation to testify against Abigail to bring out the truth and the third, his final decision to make the ultimate sacrifice.

John Proctor is portrayed throughout the play to be a man who has high moral values that he must abide by. He can spot hypocrisy in others easily and judges himself no less harshly. Elizabeth Proctor says to him in the second act:

'The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you'

This statement is true for John Proctor, he judges himself harshly for his sins and is disgusted with himself. John Proctor is a foil to most characters in the play. They are conformists and submissive as a result of the restrictive lifestyle they had to lead.

The first struggle that John Proctor faces in The Crucible is his guilt over committing the sin of adultery. This moral problem continues throughout the play, and it is the primary moral predicament that Proctor faces in the play. He has broken his own moral code as was as the moral law in the Puritanical Salem in his affair with Abigail.

Moreover, he struggles with his moral standing on this issue because he is partly responsible for Abigail's vendetta against his wife. This guilt is best demonstrated when Proctor says at the end of the second act:

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... integrity are among the most important things. He also uses Proctor to demonstrate what an unjust system can do to an individual with good intents. The play is a parallel to the anti-Communist McCarthy era. Through John Proctor we see the ludicrous nature of mass hysteria that exists when society has gone awry.

It is apparent that Miller focuses his play around the moral struggles of the protagonist, John Proctor. Throughout the play, Proctor has many struggles that he must deal with and look deep into his soul to find the resolution. He undergoes a major survey of his character and it is only this way that he can gain redemption for his sins. By abiding by his own moral code, John Proctor makes many hard decisions that will affect the outcome of the play. Proctor's struggles reflect upon the central message that Miller is communicating through the play.
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