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Examine Arthur Miller's Presentation Of John Proctor's Moral Journey - The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Introduction

Examine Arthur Miller's Presentation Of John Proctor's Moral Journey "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller is a play based upon an American settlement during the late 1600's. It is centred around actual events from history to try to portray the way of life in this era. Miller has chosen the confusion of the witch trials of this time, to provide a base for the struggles of his main character, John Proctor. At the beginning of the play the focus is laid mainly on introducing the main characters and storyline, but as the script unfolds, it becomes clear that John Proctor is the main character, something not immediately obvious from the beginning. It is how Miller presents and demonstrates Proctor's moral journey throughout the play, and the different channels he uses to do this that I will focus on. Act One really only sets the scene for the play by portraying the different characters in the Salem and how their ways of life revolve mostly around the 'church' and their religion. The inhabitants can for the most part be sectioned off into three groups; the established figures, eg. Rev. Parris; the citizens, and people who have in theory 'earned' their status, eg. ...read more.

Middle

now he says and does everything and anything he can to please his wife. An example of this in Miller's script is in the scene involving Proctor and Elizabeth where John praises his wife's cooking, when just seconds before he had tasted it and added extra seasoning. The most plausible explanation for this is that Proctor believes that by 'keeping things sweet' with Elizabeth, he will have more space to come to terms with the situation he is in. If he has to go to court, he would obviously want her on his side. A good point to make is 'why did Miller choose adultery as Proctor's sin?' Why not stealing or even murder? Both would be capable of causing the same moral dilemma and feeling of guilt, so why adultery. The answer is, because it fits in better with the events in Salem, and the fact that it could be caused only by a fit of desire on Proctor's part, there was no chance of it happening 'accidentally'. This adds many complications to Proctor's dilemma, one being that the whole fraud-based witch trials are centred around Abby, with whom John had his affair. It also provides good ground for juxtapositoning on Miller's part, as he can set Abby 'against' Elizabeth in Proctor's mind. ...read more.

Conclusion

To show any sort of positive moral outcome, it is not the confession, or even the sin committed that is of interest - it is whether or not Proctor comes to accept it, and take his punishment as it comes. The true outcome of Proctor's journey is that in the end, he was courageous in dying, even though it was for something for which he was innocent. At the very end, when he knew what would happen to him, Proctor refused to publish a lie about himself, or admit to a sin he did not commit. This shows at least some remnant of pride was left, even after everything he had been through - and this is what saves him in the end. It makes him realise that John Proctor wasn't as evil as he had thought, that, like everyone else, he was a mixture, and now with absolutely nothing to hide. Possibly, this act may cancel out John's adultery, especially as there is a lot of confusion around what are actually 'evil acts', and what are just natural flaws and instincts. Elizabeth says right at the end of the play, "...He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!.." This suggests goodness and reconciliation in Proctor's act, as the once shallow and indecisive John, is finally decisive. ...read more.

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