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The Crucible Character Analysis (John Proctor)

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Imagine living a life of paranoia, in which you cannot even walk out of the front door without having to peer over your shoulder, wondering if or when you will be struck by an inevitable plague. In 1692, this mere situation was a horrendous reality for the people of Salem, Massachusetts in The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller. This plague, created by one’s burning desire to seek vengeance upon a man through the means of witchcraft, resulted in a tragic ending for many townspeople of all kinds alike. This series of unfortunate events ultimately resulted in the unnecessary death of many; however, this painful journey along with its experiences allowed many people to acknowledge, grow, and change their person and perspective in many aspects. These changes become evident in John Proctor, whose motivations behind his actions sprout from the emotional and spiritual wounds that he self-inflicted while committing to adultery. Each and every decision that is made is a result of a motive; In the case of John Proctor, everything that he does is in attempt regain the trust, approval and unconditional love of his wife Elizabeth. Furthermore, he means to disprove the claims and corruptions caused by the sinful liar, Abigail.

While in his home furiously defending the innocence of his wife to John Hale, who came to arrest her, Proctor proclaims, “I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem—vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrant’s vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to vengeance!” (871-884, 173). The content of this quote displays the immense amount of love and passion that John has for his wife. It also supports John’s motive behind his decisions. Additionally, it explains that the claims of witchcraft being made by Abigail are purely out of vengeance… a vengeance that Proctor brought upon himself. Because of this vengeance seeking girl, John will be forced to make a decision that will immensely affect the outcome of his situation. It has been said that the toughest decision is always the right one to make. In a desperate attempt to convince the blind jury of Abigail’s act, John contemplates a decision that could greatly affect him when he says.

“A man may think God sleeps, but God sees everything, I know it now. I beg you, sir, I beg you—see her what she is. . . . She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance. . .” (854-867, 189). This quote is extremely significant because it consists of two crucial choices that John made within his time that dramatically affected the outcome of his situation. The first one being that he committed adultery with Abigail. It may be true that if not for this, the witch trials may have never occurred, because Abigail wouldn’t have inquired with Tituba to curse Elizabeth. The second being that not only did John commit Adultery, but also openly admitted to the court that he did so. Proctor decided to admit his sin in attempt to taint Judge Danforth’s trustingly blinded opinion of her, hoping in turn that the judge would reconsider the validity of Abigail’s claims, resulting in the release of his wife. These decisions result in immeasurable consequence, yet allow him to change as a human being for the better in the eyes of God and his wife. Although some of the choices that John made were not wise, he learned from them and in the end changed into a better man.

Towards the end of The Crucible when John is urged to sign a document solidifying his confession to witchcraft, he says “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (725-730, 207). After refusing to sign his name, he is pressed yet again to provide Danforth with the names of others whom he knew to have associated with the devil… he replies, “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it” (653-655, 207). Theses quotes provide pivotal examples of how John has changed. He refuses to live a life of lies as he previously did, and bring any further shame upon himself or Elizabeth. He also refuses to act in the likes of Abigail, and falsely accuse any innocent people when is asked to do so.

Changes in John’s personality are a result of his motivation to fix his wrongdoings during and after committing adultery. This motivation to repair his mistakes is what causes him to make the decision to confess to adultery, and he did this in confidence that it would help save his wife. Proctor made the tough decision to admit to such a crime, yet an act like this displays how he grew and changed as a person, as well as how much one woman meant to him. Conclusively, John decided not to take the easy road, but the prideful highroad in which he allowed Elizabeth to be his pardoner and God to be his judge. Never did he let his name become corrupted.

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