Comparative Essay between Atticus Finch and John Proctor as Men of Conscience

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Introduction

Comparative Essay between Atticus Finch and John Proctor as Men of Conscience Both fictional characters, John Proctor from Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" and Atticus Finch from Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" are considered to be men of conscience. A man of conscience is one who is aware of his moral and ethical judgements or pronouncements and has a strong desire to prefer right over wrong. His life his ruled by his desire of seeking truth and justice in all that surrounds him and within himself. These attributes are displayed by both characters throughout their stories. In Arthur Miller's The Crucible; a play set in 17th century Salem a small town in Massachusetts burdened by the mad hunts for nonexistent witches, we are introduced to the character John Proctor. What differentiates John from the other inhabitants of Salem is that he refuses to hand over his good conscience, even if his life is on the line. This means that John would never accuse another as a witch to save himself. Proctor is aware that he has sinned against the morals of the time, due to his affair with Abigail, a devious and dissembling girl of 17. "He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion but against his own vision of decent conduct."

Middle

It is a tale about knowledge, innocence, prejudice and courage. This novel introduces us to another man of conscience, Atticus Finch, a lawyer and caring father. He is an intelligent man, who has the ability see past the ill in anyone. Much like Proctor, his great wisdom and conscience grants him respect from everyone in the town, even though he is criticized by most of the town members for his unprejudiced attitude towards negros. According to the character Mrs Maudie "Atticus is a man who does for other people the unpleasant things that they have to do". He is a man of justice and will fight for a cause even if he is positive that he will be beaten in the end. He also tries his best to convey these values to his children. In the novel, Atticus accepts the responsibility to undertake the Tom Robinson case and to defend him to the best of his ability. Atticus does this as he can understand the individual worth of someone regardless of their colour; he believes that all people are equal and tries to focus on the good part of everyone. It is this attitude that allows him to tolerate Bob Ewell who means to hurt him. This point is justified in Atticus's words "I try my best to love everyone".

Conclusion

Atticus defends Tom Robinson at the risk of his and his children's safety, to show the community that negros are equal to Whites and have the right to enjoy social respect and justice. He does this to show that the law should be free of all prejudice, "The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any colour of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box." Whilst Proctor's concern for justice outstrips his concern for his reputation when he confesses to having an affair with Abigail, John Procter says "I have known her sir! I have known her". By telling the truth about his affair it shows that Abigail is making false accusations of Elizabeth harming her so that she can be with John. He did this so he could prove that Abigail has dissembled the town by naming nonexistent witches, the result of justifying that Abigail is a fibber would be that all the people accused of witchcraft would be released, therefore helping the community. In conclusion, both John Proctor (towards the end of the play) and Atticus Finch are ideal paradigms of men of conscience regardless of their differences. This is shown by their moral and ethical judgements and pronouncements and their ability to prefer right over wrong. Their correct deeds and behaviour make them renowned as respectable and influential individuals in their communities. ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1

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