The Crucible - John Proctor as a Tragic Hero


The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, depicts the story of the Salem witch hunts and the chaos it caused. One of the main characters is John Proctor. Proctor is put through many life-changing decisions. In many cases, a decision he made in one situation led to another problem. Through his life-altering, and ultimately life-ending decisions, John Proctor is the established as the tragic hero of this story.


If John Proctor were not such an admirable character, he probably would not have been in the massive mess he was. Proctor made a very humanly mistake in the beginning. In considering his wife\'s sickness and loneliness, he looked to Abigail. Proctor\'s passion and sexuality no doubt frightened Elizabeth. He probably felt rejected and disappointed when she did not or could not return the expressions of love from him. Abigail most likely adored him because of his strength and honesty. "Gah! I\'d almost forgot how strong you are, John Proctor" (21)! With this statement, Abigail shows that she never really forgot about him. He was always running through her mind. She thought he would still be in love with her too.


After his affair with Abigail, he made an even bigger mistake. He rejected Abigail and went back to his wife, without thinking what Elizabeth might due in response. Abigail sought vengeance for her disgrace, as it was exposed slowly to the town.


Cheever: ...I have a warrant for your wife.


Proctor: Who charged her?


Cheever: Why, Abigail Williams charged her.


Proctor: On what proof, what proof (22-23)?


Proctor had eventually figured Abigail would do something like this. This quotation shows that Abigail did not care a bit for Elizabeth. She did not, however, wish anything bad to happen against John. Elizabeth knew Abigail’s motive was to overthrow her and have John for herself. “She thinks - to take my place, John.”


After the affair with Abigail, he feels shamed by Elizabeth\'s self-control, as well as a huge feeling of guilt. John Proctor was not the same man to himself as he was to others. In a way, their admiration revolted him. This was because he was disgusted with himself. Elizabeth hinted at this problem when she said, "The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you" (55). John Proctor judges himself harshly. Before Abigail came along and ruined his peace, he was always sure of himself. After Abigail, he is sure that nothing he will ever do, will be pure and honest again.


In Christian doctrine, there is only one sin for which there will be no forgiveness. It is called despair. It means giving up hope because you are so horrible in your actions and ideas. You are so horrible that not even God himself would forgive you. John Proctor headed toward despair when he began having the affair. He was pushed even closer to the edge when the end of the book was near. He did find his goodness and was saved, but it was very near to him ending his credibility as a Christian, or what little was left. "I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs. Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show them honor now, show a stony heart and sink them with it" (144)!


Proctor sees himself as a sign that all that was right in the village was lost. He believes that all saneness was lost as the judicial system reverted to listening to a young teenager. No matter how hard Proctor tried to explain the truth to the courts, Danforth was deaf to his claims.


Through intense and rigorous trials of self-belief and the desire for truth in the world, John Proctor had found his true self. His self that had been lost since Abigail had pulled him away from his life and his goodness.


However, while