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How does John Proctor change throughout the play? Does Act Four show him as a tragic hero or a desperate failure?

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Introduction

How does John Proctor change throughout the play? Does Act Four show him as a tragic hero or a desperate failure? In 1952, Arthur Miller wrote a play called The Crucible. Written in a period of heightened tension in America due to the persecution of communists, Miller uses the play as a device to make a statement about that time. The play surrounds the events of the Salem witch trials of 1692, which Miller uses as an allegory for the McCarthyite persecution and the Red Scare of the time of the play's publication, which was subsequently banned. Miller remains to this day a world renowned playwright with his plays performed globally on a regular basis to this day because of the enduring messages his plays convey. John Proctor is an extremely complex character, who we as the audience come to love over the course of the play. Proctor is predominantly a typical "good man" who has a good wife, they are not criminals, and Miller's motivation is that this very fairytale image should build dramatic tension ready for something bad to happen; we expect the worse. ...read more.

Middle

This is especially true at the point when Elizabeth subtly confronts his adultery, exposing all of Proctor's weaknesses and failures. We cannot help but think that Proctor has sunk as low as he possibly can if he cannot even be happy in his home. Out of the blue, events take a shocking change of course as we see that he does care for his wife after all; he defends Elizabeth fervently when she is accused of witchcraft. At this point of high dramatic tension, we see his love for her come through as though he is a changed person displaying a vast contrast to previous events. This is particularly evident when Proctor loses his temper with a character called Cheever and proclaims "out with you" at Cheever's presentation of a warrant. The pace of the conversation at this point in the play is extremely fast and we can see that Proctor is greatly outnumbered and so is forced to snap back at any remark made, possibly without thinking as much as he should have. This sort of tribalistic fighting; against those that support the new movement of persecution and Proctor who does not, elevates him to the status of a tragic hero. ...read more.

Conclusion

immense sympathy for Proctor to the point where we feel we can do no more, and it is as if his fate is in God's hands. He is like any civil rights movement figure head, dieing as a true hero, hoping that the world will see its wrong, however tragically he winds up doing so. The language used at this point in the play enables us to almost hear the emotion and trouble in his voice; it enables Proctor to flip the tables and almost become the figure of authority for this brief moment, stealing it away from the Judges. In conclusion, John Proctor's character goes on a plight of status change throughout the play, seemingly able to go from being the lowest of the low to the man that everyone has respect for, visibly or not. In some respects Act Four shows that he has failed to get what he wanted, and instead ended up losing his own life, but at the same time it also shows that his intentions changed, and he finally did not care about just himself, instead leaving an impact as a martyr; a tragic hero. [WC - 1,496] ?? ?? ?? ?? Matthew Simpson 10RH ...read more.

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