The Struggles Of John Proctor In The Crucible By Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, is an unidentified comparison between the witch hunt in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, and the Red Scare which targeted Americans suspected of communism, especially those that were in entertainment and the arts, during the height of the Cold War. The play includes the struggles of a man named, John Proctor. John Proctor is a torn man. He struggles with his belief that his affair with Abigail irreparably damaged himself in the eyes of his God, his wife, Elizabeth, and himself. His religious fervor gives him the lack of integrity and self-respect to forgive himself. His marriage with his wife stays to seem forced throughout the play, their conversations were terse and exuberant interactions stayed brief, if any at all. He resents Elizabeth because she cannot forgive him and/or trust him again, but he is guilty of the same actions. Both he and Abigail claim slander throughout the play. Abigail shows no remorse for all she caused at the end of the play and fails to save herself and her relationship with John Proctor. Whilst John Proctor attempts to save himself he ends up doing so although he kills himself and risks his image and the blackening of his name in the process, but he finds the redemption he was looking for. John Proctor does redeem himself because he admits his sins, he risks it all, and earns his forgiveness from Elizabeth.
Reputation is important in this town where a social image is related to someone’s ability to follow religion. Having a bad reputation in the town of Salem will result in people not wanting to do business with you, letting people work for them, or have anything to do with you. Someone with black on their name is shunned and isolated within the community. This is shown in the play when Abby is relieved from working for the Proctors. Throughout the play she walks around the town without any respect shown towards her, parents teach their children to go the other way and to never look her in the face, no family in Salem would hire Abby to work for them because of the black on her name. John Proctor knows this, throughout the play he tries to act impassive towards Abby during their encounters and he lies about their affair to keep his reputation clean. One example of John trying to keep his reputation clean is when he said, 'A man will not cast away his good name'. John is using his reputation to try and gain leverage and trust from Judge Danforth. This just shows how sacred a man’s word is during this time period. Another quote that shows John’s reputation was, “Proctor, respected and even feared in Salem”, which was said by the narrator shows that Proctor is well liked and his reputation is strong within the town. He is well respected and he does not want to put his name at stake. 'Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not 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!', by confessing John Proctor has ruined his name, and given up his goodness. His hopes for salvation have been shattered. Another quote that shows the importance of reputation to John is how defensive he gets of it when he argues with Elizabeth about what happens the narrator says, “His anger rising. ”. He became defensive of his so called good name. It is evident that John’s name is what is important to him throughout the play.
The events that lead to John’s redemption are shocking to say the least. At the start of the play John would continue to lie to everyone and himself. One example of this is when John says to Abby when they talked alone during Act 1, “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. ” In this quote John lies and tries to convince himself that his affair never happened to do his best to try and keep his integrity and reputation intact. Abigail reminds John of what they once had, hoping to get a confession from him. He ignores her, but soon admits what had happened and that he has thought of her on occasion, but he has no intention of starting back up their relationship. He also admits the affair when he says, “No, no Abby that is done with”. He knows what had happened, but he refuses to accept it. Another example of him lying is when he gets in an argument with Elizabeth, his wife, and says, “Woman. I'll not have your suspicion anymore. ” He refuses to admit to Elizabeth and himself what had happened. He could not accept what he had done so when he says to Judge Danforth at the court, 'She thinks to dance with me on my wife's grave! And well she might have, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. ', it his first step to redemption. He reveals his adultery and affair with Abby. He says Abigail wants his wife dead. Proctor redeems himself because, he risks it all and Proctor sacrifices his name for the greater cause. He admits his sins by calling Abigail a whore and exposes their affair. Once he realizes that him withholding information has gotten many of his friends and neighbors killed he has to step up. Once he confesses to Danforth, Danforth wants him to sign a confession and Procter does not and responds by saying, 'Beguile me not! I blacken all of them when this is nailed to the church the very day they hang for silence. ', Danforth wants the one confession to make everyone look guilty and what’s the killings to look justified and condemn all of Proctor's friends. He is protecting his name, because if he signed the confession and the confession is made public, he won't be worth anything to his children. Proctor truly finds redemption for himself when Elizabeth forgives him. She tells him, “John, it come to naught that I should forgive you, if you'll not forgive yourself. It is not my soul, John, it is yours. Only be sure of this, for I know it now: Whatever you will do, it is a good man does it. I have read my heart this three month, John. I have sins of my own to count. It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery. John, I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me!”, here she helps John forgive himself before his death and redeem himself.
John Proctor does redeem himself because he admits his sins, he risks it all, and earns his forgiveness from Elizabeth. Proctor redeems himself because, He admits his sins by calling Abigail a whore and exposes their affair, he risks it all and Proctor sacrifices his name for the greater cause, and Elizabeth helps John forgive himself and this causes her to forgive him also.
Throughout the play John struggles with right and wrong. He knows what he did, but he could not accept it. Even though he refused to admit his sins it at first to keep his name intact, once he realized the impact he was having he took the initiative to expose Abby for all she had done and he exposed himself in the process.