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How does John Proctor struggle to find the essential goodness in himself, and how does he change during the course of the play?

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Introduction

John Proctor's final words are: "You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor." How does John Proctor struggle to find the essential "goodness" in himself, and how does he change during the course of the play? How does Miller create a sense of tension and suspense in the build up to this climactic moment? In the play "The Crucible", Arthur Miller uses many dramatic techniques to build tension throughout the play. John Proctor is a farmer in his mid-thirties, and is the focal character of the play. Each act tells the audience more John's character and gives insight into what others think of him. From the start of the play we can see that he is a well-respected man in Salem. However, we can see that he is a broken man; he has lost all respect for himself and sees himself as a fraud because he has sinned by having an affair with Abigail Williams. We can see that Proctor is resolute not to blacken his name in the village so he has his mind set that he will not confess to anyone apart from his wife, Elizabeth. ...read more.

Middle

Proctor's silence at first leads to 39 people being arrested, and over time it means many more arrests are made by court and many people were hanged on suspicion of witchcraft. Toward the end of Act Two, Elizabeth is arrested on suspicion of witchcraft after Abigail claims that Elizabeth sent spirits to stab her in the stomach. The court visit Proctor's house and find a poppet with a needle stuck in its stomach and claim it is proof that Elizabeth sent spirits to hurt Abigail. However, the poppet was made by Mary Warren whilst with Abigail. As his wife is taken away, Proctor threatens Mary Warren that she must come to the court and tell them the truth about the poppet. Mary says that she cannot charge murder upon Abigail, and it takes a week for Proctor to persuade her to go to court. At the end of Act Two Proctors declares that his wife will not die just because he has kept quiet, he says "My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me!" This suggests that Proctor values his wife's life over his own name, and is willing to go to the court and if necessary, admit his affair with Abigail. ...read more.

Conclusion

He declares that he now sees a shred of goodness in himself. This is an ironic ending because in order to see any goodness in himself, he must choose to be hanged, and just as he realises that him and Elizabeth love each other and have a stronger relationship than they had realised, their relationship is ripped apart as he tears the document. However, by ripping the confession, Elizabeth also sees goodness in him which she could not see at the start of the play, and does not mind him dying as a good man. Proctor is quite similar in character to Arthur Miller, who wrote The Crucible when he saw a modern parallel with Joseph McCarthy's ruthless hunt for communists in 1950-54. Miller, like Proctor, was not afraid to speak his mind, and was later called before the court because of this. When Miller was called before the court, he also refused to give the names of others in order to protect his self respect. Miller said "I am not protecting the communists. I am trying to and will protect my sense of myself. I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble upon him." Which compares to Proctor's actions at the end of Act Four when he refuses to give names of people he had seen with the Devil. ?? ?? ?? ?? Danny Carr The Crucible ...read more.

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