The Crucible: John Proctor
Often in true tests of moral character where people are tempted to deceive, be dishonest, or take advantage of each other, there are few who truly succeed. The story of The Crucible gives one of the strongest tests of morality, where the truly ethical are punished and those of low morale are free to live their lives. The Crucible very well represents that when a situation is life or death human decency crumbles rapidly. The Crucible takes place in Salem, Massachusetts where religion and corruption are rampant, and soon two girls fall ill unexplainably and it sparks ideas of evil and witchery in the town. This results in the citizens of the town pointing fingers at those who appear to have dealings with the devil, which inspires grave misfortune for many. Throughout The Crucible one character John Proctor remains remarkably honest, ethical, he fought for others, and what he stood for even when it meant his life.
John Proctor’s truly good moral character and honest personality is first witnessed when he expresses some of his true feelings and affection towards his wife at their home. Two quotes that best represents John Proctor’ love and overall good feelings for his wife are “I mean to please you Elizabeth”(Arthur Miller, p.50). After these words Proctor later goes on to say “I think you’re sad again. Are you?” (Miller, p.51). These two quotes best exemplify Proctor’s loving emotions toward his wife Elizabeth, at a time when most people kept their emotions to themselves Proctor is surprisingly open. When he asks his wife if she is saddened he shows his concern about his loved one’s feelings, and a feeling of Proctor’s true happiness with Elizabeth is suggested. Also Proctor does not say these words of love because of some superficial desire such as lust, or greed, but rather he expresses these words out of the true love he possesses for her. During John Proctor’s time many married men did not give their wives the appraisal that Proctor gives Elizabeth, as it was seen as something that did not need to be said because a husband provided so much for their spouse. John Proctor proves himself as a devoted and loving husband towards Elizabeth in great fashion, and is not afraid to show his true emotion for her.
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Not only does Proctor have strong feelings for his wife but also for his fellowman, and he will go to great extents to protect his neighbour. During the actual trial every main character exposes many strong emotions, and when John Proctor is asked a very trying question of his character he returns a very courageous answer “Danforth: We have thought it too convenient to be credited. However, if I should tell you now that I will let her be kept another month; and if she began to show her natural signs, you shall have her living yet another year, and a year is long. What say you sir? It is done now. Will you drop this charge? Proctor: I - I think I cannot.”(Miller, p.92). In this excerpt the judge Danforth questions if Proctor’s wife is pregnant then should he keep her another year, and Proctor declines. His reasoning is he has friends who have wives that have also been accused as being witches. This shows Proctor’s nature of equality he does not ask for his wife to receive more time, and this is the woman he loves more than anything. Rather he takes into account his numerous friends in the same situation as he and respects them by declining the judges offer, he is trying to protect his friendships by taking this action. This also shows John Proctor protecting his name; he wants people to see him as an honest hardworking man of god, which he accomplishes by making this very heartfelt decision. Proctor not only will make a stand for his beloved wife but also for his friends.
The truest test of John Proctor’s character exists at the end of the trial. Proctor is asked to sign a document confessing his dealing with the devil but he refuses to sign after he confesses to his dealings and gives a very powerful reason why he has taken such action: “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I am not the worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul leave me my name!”(Miller, p.143). John Proctor believes that his confession with words is one issue, but signing over your name is another, and his name is all that he believes that a man has and refuses to have someone else own it. John Proctor is a man of great pride and honor, he has such strong honor that he will die for not signing over his name. His courage is tremendous and is one of the very few characters of The Crucible who stood up for his principal, and died for it. John Proves himself as a man of great ethics and honor by the end of this story, and truly passes this most difficult challenge of values.
Throughout The Crucible John Proctor maintains his dignity, honor, values, and fought for what he believed was right whether it be for himself or his fellowman. Everyday we are faced with moral decisions large and small, it is how we handle them that determine us as who we are as people. People are often labeled by their actions whether it is good or bad, and it is important that when a decision is made it is made in the best interest of all. The Crucible shows great examples of the ugly and beautiful elements that make human nature, which vary on a grand scale as seen in this book. It is important to have a set of basic, well-wrought morals and to strive to fulfill each one daily.
Written by: Sean McMorran