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Proctor's Contribution to the Effectiveness of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible'

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Introduction

Proctor's Contribution to the Effectiveness of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' By Jeffrey Li The name 'John Proctor' resembles a man of utmost character and dominance. From when he first enters the scene of the play, he instantly makes a huge impact on the atmosphere on stage before he even mutters a word. No matter where you are in the Salem, there is no way you can ignore or disregard his presence. John Proctor is the heart of this play and is the key contributor to the striking effectiveness of Arthur Miller's dark and mysterious drama. Due to his extreme authority and command on the stage, Proctor always seems to be at the centre of conflict within the play. Whenever he appears, he is always liable to create a sense of insecurity. He is the source of tensional conflict and because of this, he has a very distinct effect on the characters that surround him. Proctor's attendance is always made incredibly obvious and this alone gives people difficulty feeling comfortable when he is around. One of the best examples of this is expressed when he first enters the play, giving Mary Warren quite a serious fright: "Enter John Proctor. On seeing him, Mary Warren leaps in fright."(p16) As said before, he has not even muttered or said a word. His reputation and personal conveyance is enough to disturb others. "Be you foolish Mary Warren? Be you deaf? I forbid you to leave the house, did I not? Why shall I pay you? I am looking for you more often than my cows!" (p16) "I'll show you a great doin' on your arse one of these days. Now get you home, my wife is waitin' with your work!" (p16) These quotes emphasise that this man's bite is just as bad as his bark. Not only does Proctor have a strong and powerful appearance, his speech also expresses his rash and rough personality. ...read more.

Middle

But it just seems that in these opening stages of the play - Elizabeth is showing no intentions of letting him get away with it and constantly rubs it in: "Proctor: You doubt me yet? Elizabeth: John, if it were not Abigail that you must go to hurt, would you falter now? I think not. Proctor: Now look you - Elizabeth: I see what I see John." (p45) Besides his atmosphere-changing attributes, there is another thing that Proctor contributes to this play and that is the ability to give the crowd an opportunity to interact with the characters on stage. Through Proctor's choric role, the audience are able to communicate their own thoughts and opinions to others in Salem. Due to the distinct resemblance in beliefs, a person watching the crucible would be able to imagine that they are Proctor on stage, acting out the play and taking part in a trial of the 17th century. Equipped with this ability, the audience are inevitably insured to bear a higher level of interest towards what awaits in the mysterious and twisted plot. Since the audience sympathises with Proctor, it adds to the tragic effect of the ending. The emphasis upon it being a 'tragedy' is subtle yet the factors among it are probably strong enough to categorise it as what is known as a 'Shakespearean Style Tragedy'. Even Arthur Miller himself stated that this was in fact his intention when writing this play: "Every tragedy is the story of how the birds come home to roost. You do something, and then you try to undo it and it won't undo; it keeps pursuing you until it catches up to you." This is basically what happens to Proctor in this story. Out of the goodness of his own heart, he attempts to save his wife Elizabeth from the rope. However, he is instead inadvertently dragged into the situation and placed upon the grand podium himself; thus finding himself suspended in a state of affairs which turn out to be both uncertain and inescapable. ...read more.

Conclusion

~ Danforth This is the point where Proctor comes into this, since he is the man who was placed in the play by Arthur Miller in order to protest against all of this injustice. He is the one that Arthur Miller is using as the 'vehicle' for social criticism. Due to the fact that he plays the choric role that the crowd favour, and since Danforth resembles the court/senate that the crowd dislike, it automatically causes the crowd to switch perspective and see what is going on from Miller/ Proctor's point of view. Proctor is almost the character that Arthur Miller puts inside the play as a representation of himself. Although their personalities may be different, Miller and Proctor both share the same thoughts and this itself is another metaphor concerning what the play stands for. As a summary, there are four main things that Proctor contributes to this play: - Conflict: through his dominant personality and iconoclastic figure. - A higher level of involvement concerning the crowd: via his Choric Role. - Tragic Effect: as he adds hope to a lost cause and climbs up to fall back down. - Vehicle of protest against social disorder: by expressing Miller's thoughts. Arthur Miller put his own heart and soul into the character of John Proctor and as a result placed himself and the audience into the play. Thus, he has expressed his opinions to the crowd and given them an underlying habit of thought concerning the social disorder in modern society. Without a character like Proctor in this play, Arthur Miller would have had a harder time creating drama and conflict. It would have been difficult to raise interests and affairs concerning the audience and there would have been no way to reach such a climatic ending. As said before, Proctor is the key contributor to the striking effectiveness of this story and without some to play a role like this, a play is just not the same. ...read more.

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