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The Tragic Hero of The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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The Tragic Hero of The Crucible

A tragedy should bring fear and pity to the reader. A man in this tragedy should not be exceptionally righteous, but his faults should come about because of a certain irreversible error on his part. This man should find a bad or fatal ending to add to the tragedy of the story, for this man in the tragic hero. The protagonist John Proctor portrays a tragic hero in The Crucible; his hamartia of adultery causes great internal struggles, he displays hubris by challenging authority, and he encounters catastrophe through recognition and reversal.

John Proctor's decision to betray his wife causes internal struggles and ultimately leads to his catastrophe at the end of the drama. Hamartia is the primary error of the tragic hero which provokes part of his misfortune. Proctor's serious mistake of adultery delivers problems with Abigail Williams and indirectly causes his jailing. Abigail is a grown young woman, and yet she is an orphan who mistakes John Proctor?s sex for true love. When Proctor tells Abigail that the relationship can no longer continue, the girl becomes angry and sorrowful (1098). In order to prove Abigail?s sinfulness and to discredit her in front of the court, Proctor proclaims that he had an affair with this evil child. The outraged court officials summon Elizabeth Proctor to find the truth. When asked about her husband, Elizabeth?s soul is twisted, for reporting the truth could destroy her husband?s reputation, but lying means breaking her solemn oath to God. Because she is selfless, Elizabeth chooses to lie and save her husband, but perhaps condemn herself to hell for such a sin. This scene indicates dramatic irony, for Proctor knows that which Elizabeth is not ...

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...his sin of adultery, for it causes breaks in his bonds between his wife and Abigail. He grapples with authority, for Proctor is not one who listens to authority simply because it is the excepted thing to do. He also faces death because he chooses to be a noble man and denies all charges of witchcraft. Though John Proctor is not a perfect man, his beliefs and values are in the right place; he listens to his heart. When his head tells him to listen to the court because it is the law, and when Hale tells him to choose to live as an accused witch, Proctor does not listen because he knows that these acts are not in his best interest. He follows his soul, a lesson the whole world should learn to follow.

Bibliography

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Literature, Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. Ed. Ellen Bowler, et al. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1999.
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