John Proctor's Moral Test In The Crucible By Arthur Miller

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a modern American play that explores the common themes of sin and guilt, self-preservation, and protecting one’s reputation that permeated our society during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. The evolution of John Proctor’s character demonstrates how an arrogant, weak man with a guilty conscience evolves into a heroic martyr that dies to protect his family and to stop the hysteria of witchcraft that is destroying the town and the lives of his friends. Even though the novel’s namesake, a crucible, is not explicitly used in the story, the audience experiences the symbolism of the protagonist’s moral test as Proctor evolves from a self-centered, cheating adulterer to a moral and honorable family man who truly wants …show more content…
After Elizabeth’s arrest for witchcraft, Proctor is determined to save the woman he loves as he tells Elizabeth when the clerk of court Cheever is taking her into custody “I will bring you home. I will bring you soon.” (177). He sacrifices his reputation by making an effort to compensate for his sin by being a better husband to Elizabeth. Proctor tells Mary Warren, the house servant and cohort of Abigail Williams, that “My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me!” (178) Proctor chooses to break his silence and fight for all the women who are accused of witchcraft and he tells Mary Warren that she will tell the truth about Abigail and her malicious attempt to get rid of Elizabeth so that they can be together. He confesses his adultery with Abigail even though the court does not believe Proctor and accuses him of devil worshipping. After he is jailed, Proctor changes his mind and decides to make a false confession to save himself after Elizabeth is pardoned for being pregnant. When talking with Elizabeth in his cell asking her what to do, Elizabeth replies, “It is not my soul, John, it is yours… Only be sure of this, for I know it now. Whatever you will do, it is a good man does it…I am not your judge, I cannot be. Do as you will, do as you will!” (208-209). His true character of goodness prevails when he rips up the confession and stands by his friends in death instead of falsely accusing them as witches. Proctor’s courageous decision at the end of the play to die rather than to confess a sin that he did not commit finally breaks the tragic cycle of the witch trials. Proctor could have lied to save himself, but he did not. His choice

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