The Crucible - The Marriage of John and Elizabeth Proctor

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The Crucible:

The Marriage of John and Elizabeth Proctor

The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is a study in the mass hysteria which led to the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. Themes of the play include deceit, love, secrecy and paranoia. These attributes can be given to the play itself, but can also be given to certain characters and their relationships; these have been used by Miller to create tension throughout the play and have allowed him to totally capture the audience personally.

        Two of the key characters in the play are John and Elizabeth Proctor, a married couple with what seems – to the majority of people in the play – a flawless relationship, but is really one of suspicion, secrecy and fear. To begin with, John is an extremely complex character placed at the heart of the play. He has a strong sense of his morals and he will not suffer fools gladly – he is the first to truthfully give his point of view. Unfortunately, John also has several personality traits which lead to his downfall – and even his death. However, his honour and honesty at the end of the play transform him into something of a tragic hero.

        John’s most obvious weakness is his temptation – his lust for Abigail and his committing of adultery, and his disregard and plain disrespect for his wife, Elizabeth. For most people in Salem, John’s actions would have been a great shock as he is a well respected pillar of the community; however, this does not permit his sins. In John Proctor, Miller has been able to convey an imperfect man – who understands his flaws and sins – whose name and pride are more important than his life. This could be seen as a strength, as John would rather have no life than a life with his name and children associated with the accusations of witchcraft and deceit; he dies for his name, which in my opinion, is an extremely courageous thing to do. However, some people might say that John ought to take humiliation for his sins, rather than accept the punishment of death, which comes for the issue of witchcraft rather than adultery.

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        For me, John is a very likeable character despite him having a short temper, perhaps being a little impatient and quite cruel when pushed to do so – i.e. to Mary Warren. He seems to momentarily treat people with little respect because of his pride. John is a good man, although I think he needs to treat people in a better fashion sometimes – especially in light of what has happened – or rather, what he has done. However, John does redeem much of his credibility towards the end of the play, after being accused of witchcraft. The catch is ...

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