Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

John Proctor: Overview

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John Proctor’s Development The Crucible, first published in 1953, is about the dramatization of the Salem witch trials that takes place in Massachusetts in 1692. In The Crucible, John Proctor is the most significant person that has most effect on the ending. Every decision he makes alter the outcome of the witch trial in Salem. In the beginning, he seems reluctant to confess the truth, but in the end, he finally comes upfront and admits what he has done due to his desire of saving others.

John can be compared to a crucible because he is like a vessel that when heated to extremely high temperatures, melts down and purifies owing to the fact that he has changed tremendously throughout the book. John Proctor seems to be self-centered and inconsiderate, but because of his guilt for causing all the persecutions, he becomes ingenuous and forthright. At the outset of the book, it is revealed that John Proctor, a man in his middle thirties, once had an affair with Abigail Williams, a girl age of seventeen, when Abigail says that, “I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near!

Or did I dream that? It’s she put me out, you cannot pretend it were you. I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now” (22). They not only had feelings for one another for a while but, they did more than that. According to the ten laws in Salem, one of the laws states that thou shall not commit adultery. Once Proctor realizes his immoral doings, he immediately stops his relationship with Abigail and refuses her every time she tries to get close to him. An example that clearly exemplifies this is when they are in Parris’s house, talking about what happened in the woods concerning last night.

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When Abigail and John are left alone inside the room, John says, “Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby” (23). This shows that Proctor has changed since at first he had an affair with Abigail but when she wants to prolong it, he stands up firmly and rejects her. As people are being arrested as a result of Abigail’s accusations, John knows that it is all a pretense.

Nonetheless, he doesn’t have any eagerness to help the others that are affected due to his actions. An event that proves this is when Elizabeth encourages him to help the others. She says, “God forbid you keep that from the court, John. I think they must be told…You cannot keep it John” and he replies by saying, “I know I cannot keep it. I say I will think on it” (53). However, on the night his dear wife Elizabeth is arrested, he promises her that he will do anything in his power to free her and show everyone that Abigail is unscrupulous.

He acknowledges that the only way to make others believe that Abigail is telling lies is to tell them about their affair. In the end, he goes to Judge Hathorne ad Deputy Governor Danforth and admits by saying, “In the proper place—where my beasts are bedded. On the last night of my joy, some eight months past. She used to serve me in my house, sir…She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance, you must see it; I set myself entirely in your hands” (110).

This demonstrates his want to come clean and confess what he had done wrong in the past in order to save his wife and those around him. After John tells the truth, Abigail denies it and acts as if she is a poor girl who is being treated unjustly by others even though she is doing a good deed. When Elizabeth is called forth to tell the real story, she lies in order to protect her husband’s name but, has no knowledge that he himself has confessed. As a result, the judges believe Abigail’s story and sends Proctor to jail.

While he’s in jail, people, such as Hale, persuades him to confess even though they know that he will have to lie but, they think that if he confesses, at least he will not be hanged. Proctor wants to live, so he confesses. Danforth then gives him a paper to sign and after John signs it, Danforth demands that he must also go tell the truth to the public as well. However, Proctor says, “You are the high court, your word is good enough! Tell them I confessed myself; say Proctor broke his knees and wept like a woman; say what you will, but my name cannot—” (143).

He doesn’t want to live without his name and tears the paper. As a result, he isn’t freed and is condemned to hang. This reveals at first, he wants to live so he lies, but when the judges want him to confess to the public, he rejects. Even though what he did cost him his life, he is able to have his goodness. John Proctor’s development has shown that he has truly become a good person and admits to all his actions. Throughout the book, he faces many obstacles which put him in a situation where he has no choice but to tell the truth. These obstacles allow him to make the right decisions and finally change.

John Proctor: Overview essay

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