Character analysis of John Proctor in The Crucible

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 610
Topics: Book, Morality, Salem Witch Trials, The Crucible

The Crucible is a play by American author and playwright Arthur Miller in 1953. The play was influenced by the Salem Witch hunts in 1962, which targeted individuals suspected of practicing witchcraft. During the time, social norms were founded on strict values that had grave consequences for those who dared to challenge them. Miller effectively depicts the effects of false accusations founded on blindly following religious faiths and cultural norms. Similarly, Miller also illustrates the McCarthyism hunt that saw many communist influences and sympathizers being blacklisted and hunted. Miller utilizes the protagonist, John Proctor, to explore the impacts of false accusations and blind faith and how to overcome such trials by being composed. Proctor is a local farmer and a respectable member of the Puritan community in Salem due to his authority and individuality. However, Proctor’s character comes into question when his faith and disposition are tested as he is accused of being involved in witchcraft. Proctor is a dynamic character that undergoes internal moral conflict growing into a morally honest individual despite the contradiction in his life.

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Proctor’s Moral Uprightness

Proctor is a hardworking, pious individual who values his reputation and uprightness. Despite the numerous challenges, Proctor is depicted as an ambitious man who loves his job and family. Like many other community members, Proctor is also a farmer, working hard to ensure he takes care of his family’s needs. His wife, Elizabeth Proctor, describes him as a determined man who is always devoted to his work. She states, “My husband is a good and righteous man. He is never drunk, as some are, nor wasting his time at the shovelboard, but always at his work.” (Miller, 1953). Proctor is always concerned with maintaining his reputation as an honorable man in the community whom most Puritans look up to. (Belounis, 2021). He attends every church service and is not afraid to speak out against reverend Paris’ emphasis on members donating money and other valuables to the church. He confronts the reverend and states, “Take it to heart, Mr. Parris. There are many others who stay away from church these days because you hardly mention God anymore.” (Miller, 1953). Proctor demonstrates his courage by standing up for what he believes is right.

Proctor’s Moral Conflict

On the contrary, Proctor also exudes weakness in his character, depicting the conflicts between social values and reputation. The hypocrisy in blindly following religious faiths is depicted in Proctor’s internal conflicts that force him to transform into a morally upright individual for his own sake as opposed to public perception. His affair with Abigail contradicts his morals and values as a respectable Puritan (Sheikh-Farshi et al., 2018). When he meets Abigail, he acknowledges his infidelity but also shows disgrace because of his choices, vowing never to make that mistake again. Proctor tells her, “I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again.” (Miller, 1953). Similarly, when Proctor is confronted about his alleged involvement in witchcraft, he chooses his dignity and honor. Despite his strong believes and values, his flaws only make him human in the face of being judged harshly by his community.

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Clearly, Arthur miller’s The Crucible accurately depicts the impacts of blind faith and false accusations through the protagonist’s experiences and actions as his faith and values are tested. Miler effectively illustrates how religious conformism leads to false accusations where civilians accuse other individuals, mostly innocent people, to save themselves from being prosecuted for treason. Through Proctor’s character, Miller portrays the strictness of religious values and cultural norms but also depicts the inherent sinful nature of humans as they strive to do what is right.

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  1. Belounis, R. (2021). John Proctor’s moral responsibility in Arthur Miller’s” The Crucible.
  2. Miller, A. (1953). The crucible. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  3. Sheikh-Farshi, S., Ghorban-Sabbagh, M. R., & Sharifi, S. (2018). Studying characterization in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: A cognitive stylistic analysis. Pragmatics & Cognition25(2), 310-336.
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