In The Crucible, John Proctor initially portrayed a sinful man whom had an affair, struggling to
prove to his wife that he should be trusted again. The dishonesty of the betrayal of Elizabeth and his
marriage to her changed, though, by the end of the play. This transition in Proctor\'s character
showed he transformed from a deceitful man and husband, to one whom was true to himself as well
as his beliefs. This paper will discuss Proctor\'s change in character and his struggle with getting to
the point in his life where he was finally at peace with himself.
In Act I, John Proctor displayed his guilt about having an affair with Abigail Williams, a young girl
of seventeen "with an endless capacity for dissembling." Proctor convinced himself he was a sinful
man that had done wrong, and to have respect for himself once again, he must break off all ties with
Abigail. When Abigail mentioned to Proctor the relationship she and he once had, he said to her,
"No, no, Abby. That\'s done with," and, "Abby, you\'ll put it out of mind. I\'ll not be comin\' for you
more." Even when Abigail tried to persuade Proctor to admit his love for her, he still denied it and
claimed he had no love for her any longer. She said to him, "I know how you clutched my back
behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I came near! Or did I dream that? It\'s she
put me out, you cannot pretend it were you. I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved
me then, and you do now." In all of Abigail\'s persuasion to try to get him to admit his love for her,
Proctor replied, "Abby, 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. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby." Proctor saying to
Abigail that they never touched was his way of trying to get through to her that the relationship
between the both of them had to end here. In Proctor\'s mind, saying that to Abigail was a
finalization of their affair and gave him the closure that he needed to truly forget what he and Abigail
had.
The affair between Proctor and Abigail also had made his love for Elizabeth grow stronger. The
guilt of the affair made him realize how Elizabeth was a good woman and deserved more than a
cheating husband, and he refused to allow Abigail to speak maliciously about her. Abigail said
bitterly to Proctor, "Oh, I marvel how such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be -," in which he
interrupted angrily with, "You\'ll speak nothin\' of Elizabeth!" Abigail, realizing the respect he now had
for Elizabeth as to not let her speak of Elizabeth in such a manner, then tried to convince Proctor
otherwise, saying, "She is blackening my name in the village! She is telling lies about me! She is a
cold, sniveling woman..." The anger he felt at this time was not only toward Abigail, but also toward
himself. He felt he had sinned greatly and did not provide Elizabeth, a good wife and mother of their
three children, with the respect and loyalty that one would expect out of a husband.
Act II brought across Proctor\'s need for true forgiveness from Elizabeth to officially put Abigail
out of mind. He at first tried to assure Elizabeth of his love for her, despite the affair and their
"separation". Trying to assure Elizabeth of his love for her was also a way for him to assure himself
of his love for her. He said to her, "I mean to please you, Elizabeth," in which she replied with
hesitation, "I know it, John." Proctor noticed this hesitation, and later came to realize that something
was bothering her. He also sensed their separation when he said with a good feeling, "...On Sunday
let you come with me, and we\'ll walk the farm together; I never see such a load of flowers on the
earth Lilacs have a purple smell. Lilac is the smell of nightfall, I think. Massachusetts is a beauty in
the spring!" and she merely replied with, "Aye, it is."
It is her suspicion of Proctor and Abigail that had Elizabeth troubled. When Proctor mentioned
speaking to Abigail alone, Elizabeth questioned him about it, and in reply