In order to maintain one’s dignity, one must assume the responsibility for one’s actions whatever the outcome. In Arthur Miller’s play “ The Crucible,” John Proctor is a flawed character at the beginning of the play, but by the end he redeems himself and pays the ultimate price because he chooses to act by striving to uphold justice for his wife, his friends and himself. The righteous nature of John Proctor to always seek the truth and denounce those who abuse their given powers is evident as he exposes the corruption that existed in Salem.
Proctor exposes that the girls were only acting as if they were possessed by the devil and witchcraft. Unlike many within Salem, Proctor does not see the value of the church’s authoritarianism within the town of Salem, Proctor is open and honest with the fact that he fails to see the religious value of Reverend Parris. ” I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of god in that man. I’ll not conceal it. ” (Miller 62) John Proctor has many positive traits about him, as well as a darker immoral side. That negative side unveiled in his adultery.
His affair with Abigail Williams led not only his fatal downfall, but also to that of numerous other innocent civilians in Salem during that time period. In the end, Proctor was willing to at least reverse the effects of his actions to save the others around him, even if the price he paid was his very own life. Proctor’s nobility played a vital role in his own downfall. His pride would not allow him to ruin his reputation in the village and therefore allowed Abigail to continue in her plan in seeking the love of proctor. His pride was also what caused the problem in the first place.
John Proctor believed that he was untouchable, he believed that he could have an affair, but as long as he apologized afterwards, that everything would be all right again. However, as the play unfolded he soon found that his life with Elizabeth and life in the village would never be the same again. Despite his honorable and ethical character, Proctor has doubts concerning his own judgment of his morality. His affair with Abigail is the only major flaw attributing to his own righteous character. Abigail Williams is intent on destroying Elizabeth Proctor and accuses her of witchcraft.
As a result of his foolish actions, Proctor’s affair drove Abigail to plot to get Proctor’s wife Elizabeth out of the picture so that she could take her place. She was intelligent enough to realize that if she accused the wife of a well-respected man of the village of conspiring with the devil, no one would believe and she would be thrown in jail for lying to the court. It was as if Abigail decided that if she filled the jails with people who were not as respected, no one would notice one more person passing through the courts. Abigail was driven by the hope that she and Proctor had this affair, that he made a sort of a promise to her.
She thought that if Proctor did not have Elizabeth he would then love her instead, but John Proctor was intent on protecting his wife’s name no matter what the cost. He finally decides to speak the truth to the court of his affair in order to save Elizabeth. ” I have known her, sir. I have known her. In the proper place where my beast are bedded. On the last night of my joy, some eight months past”. She used to serve me in my house, sir. I have made a bell of my honor! I have rung the doom of my good name. You believe me, Mr. Danforth! My wife is innocent, except she knew a whore when she saw one! (Miller 102,103) In many ways, John Proctor was noble and heroic. He had an heir of arrogance about his personality at the beginning which seemingly disappears towards the end of the play, making his character more likeable. He almost succumbs, even signing a written confession. His immense pride and fear of public opinion compelled him into withhold his adultery for the towns people of Salem, but by the end of the play he is more concerned with his personal integrity than his public reputation. He also did not wish to blacken anybody else’s name when he was about to confess to carrying out the work of the devil.
Proctor would only ever speak of his own sins and argued the he “cannot judge another. ” (Miller 131) Such was the case when he refused to sign the confession paper to the door of the church. ” You will not use me! I am no Sarah Good or Tituba, I am John Proctor! It is no part of salvation that you should use me! ”(Miller 132) He did not want to soil his name either, even if it meant he had to die for it as a result. He proclaims that such integrity will bring him to heaven. His honesty and selflessness at the end of this play are the attributes that make him a hero.