A piece I wrote about the character John Proctor from the book The Crucible for my English class.
October 13, 2010
Why do people act the way they act? In the play, John Proctor is a dynamic character because his actions, ideals, and morales change throughout the play. Proctor’s character changed dramatically from how he was at the beginning of the play, to how he was at the end of the play. You can almost call it a conversion. One of the most significant things in the story for Proctor’s change, was his wife being accused at the with trials. If it wasn’t for the trials, and his wife being accused, John Proctor might have never changed.
John, like many other characters in the story possessed hubris’. One of his main flaws, was that he was an adulterer. His having an affair with Abigail proved to leave a large hole of distrust between he and his wife, as well as create problems with Abigail. “Woman. I’ll not have your suspicion any more” (Miller, 54). Another of John’s problems also comes when he is talking to his wife, “I know I cannot keep it. I say I will think on it!” (Miller, 53). John is hesitant to go to the court with the information he has, which is, that Abigail and all the girls are lying. They all bare false witness to seeing witch craft, and they accuse those that they don’t like. In the story though, John harshly judges the others who believe in witchcraft. He believes there are no witches around, and that all the people are a bunch of fools to believe the word of a group of stupid young girls. However, even so, John views himself as a fraud, not being totally honest with himself or others about things he’s done…
John’s admitting to having an affair with Abigail was a step into his character change. “Elizabeth, I have confessed it!” (Miller, 113). He was finally letting out something that had been troubling him for so long, and making him feel ashamed of himself. By telling it, it’s like he had taken a load off himself. A key to his conversion though, was Elizabeth’s accusal and arrest at the trials. Proctor knew it was his fault she had been accused, because he refused to be with Abigail again, so to take revenge on him, and to try and get back with him, she hoped to kill Elizabeth. Proctor felt terrible for knowing his wife was taking the fall because of his mistakes. He found that most of his mistakes did not hurt him, but rather those around him. Those that he loved.
At the end of the story, we see the most evidence of John Proctor’s change. “I think it is honest, I think so; I am no saint” (Miller, 138), starting with John show of his humility. Humility not just in front of Danforth, or Hathorne, but humility to himself and in the eyes of G-d. John refuses to judge the others who were accused, realizing, it wasn’t his place to do so. He had come to the realization in his mind that, only G-d can truly judge us, and for anyone else to do so was wrong. And finally, we see that John sees good in himself, after thinking badly of himself the whole play. He realizes, that even just by refusing to tell the judges what they wanted to hear, and rat out others, he was being a good person. “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it. (Miller, 141).
Although John Proctor viewed himself as a bad person, most people thought differently. Most people, even though he did not share all their views and ideals, saw John as a good person. And it’s unfortunate John did not see it within himself like they did, until the end of the story, before his death. Though, as his wife said, “He have his goodness now. G-d forbid I take it from him!” (Miller, 145).