John Proctor's Pride and Reputation in The Crucible

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Pride and Reputation

Purist Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 suffered from a rapidly increasing phenomenon: witchcraft accusations and trials. The Crucible is a play that recounts the times of this incident. For the most part, it follows a man known as John Proctor. He is a sensible, honest, and hardworking man who made the mistake of succumbing to lust which sets off a chain of events that leads to the witch trials, and to his own demise. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible’s protagonist John Proctor proves to be a flawed human being who struggles to make sense of his past relationship with Abigail, his love for his wife, and his pride.

In the previous winter, John’s wife Elizabeth had become very ill. John Proctor had an affair during this time with Abigail Williams, the niece of the Reverend Parris, who worked in their household. Elizabeth found out about the affair, and fired Abigail. This left Abigail jealous of Elizabeth, and seeking revenge against her and her husband. Her vindictiveness expressed itself through witch hysteria, setting in motion a chain of events that would lead to the death of many innocent people.

“He need not have been a partisan of any fraction in the town, but there is evidence to suggest that he had a sharp and biting way with hypocrites.” (Miller 20)

Being a Christian man, John Proctor struggles with the guilt of exercising the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” How can he be a Christian if he had committed an act against God? He would be a hypocrite, a quality he detested in others.

Although John Proctor had an affair, he still cared deeply for his wife Elizabeth. Abigail’s whole purpose for the witch trials was to have Elizabeth convicted and killed so she coul...

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...e confession is a true religious and personal stand. This protest not only redeems John Proctor, but also leads him and six other condemned prisoners to the gallows, to die with dignity.

John Proctor, like every creature, is imperfect and struggles internally with the guilt of an affair, the love of his wife, and his reputation in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Even though Proctor was a Christian and loved his wife, he committed an adulterous act, but felt genuinely guilty thus illustrating Miller’s resistance to creating a wholly good or wholly evil character. He was a man who made a mistake, a mistake that influenced Salem’s witch trials and resulted in numerous murders and imprisonments. One may ask, does Proctor’s rejection of a false confession atone for his sin?

Works Cited

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. 1953. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

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