The Foolish Death of John Proctor in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

963 Words2 Pages

John Proctor's Death as Foolish in The Crucible In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, John Proctor, a proud and frustrated farmer of Salem, chooses to die rather than to give a false confession to witchcraft. Many might view this act as that of a selfless martyr; on the other hand, it can more readily be seen as the height of human stupidity in the face of vanity and pride. John Proctor is, at first, willing to offer up a false confession that his life may be spared. Inevitably, John Proctor possesses that fateful attribute known to fall fatal to many human beings - pride. While he has, indeed, been ashamed of his many sins throughout his life, Proctor's soul still clings to his pride and his good name, however soiled it may have become. On the morning scheduled for his execution, Proctor wrestles with the realization that one more sin so heaped upon the rest in his life will make precious little difference in the end; "I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud. I am not that man.... My honesty is broke... I am no good man. Nothing's spoiled by giving them this lie." (126) He attempts to calm his pride by telling himself that the other accused witches who will not give false testimony to save themselves from the gallows have every right to do so; they led lives free of blame. He, however, he tells himself, did no such thing; what right has he to hang among the righteous? "Let them that never lied die now to keep their souls. It is pretense for me, a vanity that will nor blind God nor keep my children out of the wind." (126) Thus the conviction first reached by John Proctor is to save his life rather than to throw it away in mock martyrdom. However, that pride, which he is trying so hard to repress, seizes hold of... ... middle of paper ... ...umbed him to - that this death will not accomplish anything great as Proctor hopes. The death of John Proctor will be his own fault, no other's, and what a sad and pathetic waste it will be. And so there goes a silly little man, bent by pride, forth to the gallows and whatever fate may await him beyond. Indeed, what legacy did John Proctor leave to his wife, left homeless, without a husband? What legacy did John Proctor leave his children, abandoned by their father in a fit of selfish vanity? What message was left for his children who would forever live in the knowledge that their father cared more for his good name than for his own sons and their welfare? What memory would he leave to the world which could not save him, what legacy to the world? There goes the silly little man, bent by pride, striding away from the family that needs him, towards his fate.

Open Document