What Is The Tragic Hero In The Crucible

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Arthur Miller’s The Crucible uniquely reexamines the Salem witch trials from the perspective of the townspeople swept up in the madness. Over the course of the play, Miller introduces readers and viewers to the individuals of Salem, both the accusers, the righteous, and the ordinary. John Proctor’s struggle to save his wife, Elizabeth, to end the trials, and to preserve his honor take center stage as the drama unfolds. Commonly described as the ‘tragic hero,’ the text of The Crucible clearly portrays Proctor as a virtuous man who overcomes his personal flaws and who stands firm against the unyielding pressures of the Puritan theocracy. However, closer examination of the actions taken by John Proctor reveals that he more accurately personifies …show more content…
Proctor, as a married adult, makes the conscious decision to commit adultery with Abbigail Williams, driving her decisions to ‘dance’ and to enact her vengeance through the witch hunts. Prior to the occurrence of the events of The Crucible, Proctor and Abbigail began an affair ending when Elizabeth Proctor threw out Abbigail for the dalliance. As a result, Salemites begin to question Abbigail’s character and John Proctor remains at a distance. Abbigail clearly blames Elizabeth Proctor for besmirching her reputation and for standing as an obstacle blocking what she perceives as love, claiming early into The Crucible that Goody Proctor is “a lying, cold, sniveling woman” who hates her and spreads vile rumors (Miller, 464). Abbigail’s hate of Elizabeth Proctor stems directly from her attachment to John Proctor. From the first, Abbigail views Elizabeth as a threat to what she most holds dear. When John Proctor later informs Abbigail their relationship is nonexistent, she feels …show more content…
In the Puritan society of Salem, Massachusetts, lechery presented an insurmountable flaw in one’s character. The damage enacted by a charge of lechery to one’s reputation would, likewise, present an insurmountable obstacle to acceptance. In order to preserve his reputation, John Proctor, understandably, keeps silent about the affair. However, beyond mere personal silence, John Proctor attempts to guilt his wife into silence out of pity for him. Angrily, he shouts for her to “judge [him no] more” and warns her to “judge [him] not,” for God is not her. Out of love for her husband, and aware of his drastic attempts to distance himself from Abbigail, Elizabeth steels herself to defend John Proctor’s honor. When in court, Judge Danforth presents the Proctors with one final opportunity to end the witch trials. All Elizabeth must do is confirm knowledge of John and Abbigail’s affair. However, the continued protestations of John Proctor and accrued guilt over the status of John’s reputation convinces Elizabeth to lie, although she likely realises the information pertains to her trial, passing up the final change to save the falsely accused of Salem. Had John Proctor spoken more kindly to his wife, it can logically be assumed Elizabeth may have told the truth and countless innocents (and John Proctor)

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