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Discuss the role of John Proctor in 'The Crucible'. Why does he choose to die at the end of the play?

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Discuss the role of John Proctor in 'The Crucible'. Why does he choose to die at the end of the play? John Proctor is the protagonist of the play 'The Crucible', written by Arthur Miller. This is because Miller uses Proctor as a character to help the audience understand the characters' experience. He does this by either making sympathetic expressions or the actions that Proctor makes, whether they are violent or confusing. Miller makes us feel sympathetic for Proctor when Proctor's wife, Elizabeth gets taken away to court for being accused of doing 'the devil's work'. Proctor knows she is innocent but nobody will believe him. In Act I, John Proctor's role is to introduce himself and show his character: 'Be you deaf? I forbid you leave the house did I not?' (Proctor, Act I) This comment suggests he likes to be powerful and in control, in this case, by being forceful. He feels 'strong about hypocricy, but is even-tempered. Miller tells us that 'in the presence of Proctor a fool felt his foolishness instantly'. He also tells us that proctor 'is a sinner against his own vision of decent conduct', of which he is talking about the affair with Abigail Williams. This is dramatic irony as, only three characters (including Proctor) are aware of this. When we first meet Proctor he is with Abigail, Mary and Mercy Lewis. ...read more.


This is symbolic as he is trying to forget the affair, because he feels so guilty. This builds more tension: 'What keeps you so late? It's almost dark.' (Elizabeth, Act II) This comment of Elizabeth's shows she is anxious and suspicious of his whereabouts. He replies that he was 'planting far out the forest edge'. Then goes on to say: 'Pray now for a fair summer.' (Proctor, Act II) He is trying to please his wife, still feeling guilt. He says with a grin: 'I mean to please you, Elizabeth.' (Proctor, Act II) Elizabeth replies, although hard to say, which suggests denial or disbelief: 'I know it, John.' (Elizabeth, Act II) Proctor and Elizabeth fear each other, and this illustrates the feature of the play-fear. Their short sentences and being silent suggests this, and also brings tension upon their marriage, and the audience. Act II is mostly to do with John Proctor, the visiting of Hale to which he is questioned about his religious efforts, his arguments with his wife, his suspicions of the witchcraft in Salem and Abigail, and the arrest of his wife. He grabs the search warrant off Cheever: 'Proctor, you dare not touch the warrant.' (Cheever, Act II) 'Ripping the warrant.' (Stage directions, Act II) This is Proctor's angry side. He knows what Abigail is up to, yet no one will believe him. ...read more.


The short, quick sentences that they exchange give us a sense of tension: 'You are a - marvel, Elizabeth.' (Proctor, Act IV) 'You - have been tortured?' (Elizabeth, Act IV) As she asks Proctor this it proves that she wants to forgive him, and that she wants to love him again. He decides to confess about witchery, for Elizabeth's sake. Once the confession has been written down he grabs it, saying: You have all witnessed it - it is enough.' (Proctor, Act IV) He refuses to sign his confession. He doesn't want to blacken his name anymore: 'God knows how black my sins are! It is enough!' (Proctor, Act IV) If he doesn't give it back, or sign the confession, he will be hanged, he will be killed. Instead he rips it like, just like he did the warrant/ He decides to die. The atmosphere turns tragic and goes still. The audience's reaction is also tragic, but also understandable - after all, that was the role of John Proctor. He chooses to die because he would blacken his name, and his children's name - Proctor. He realises he has ruined his reputation from the affair, and that the courts in Salem were finished. He couldn't lie anymore. He chose his own death rather than betrayal of his conscience. This shows us that he too has come through the fire to be purified, just like the pure elements extracted from the metals in a crucible. ...read more.

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