John Proctor is a flawed man. How, in spite of this, does Arthur Miller develop his character so that we admire him more and more as the play progresses? John Proctor, throughout the play, undergoes a personal dilemma. He earns our respect during the play by making some moral choices. Towards the end of the play he follows the courage of his convictions but ironically has to play the ultimate price. Miller introduces a complex character. John Proctor, in the directors notes, comes across as a well respected person to the puritan community of Salem Massachusetts. Although would he be if they knew he was harbouring a secret?
He is a guilt ridden character who has defied the laws of 17th century Salem. Proctor goes against the norms of the Puritan religion as he has a very critical view of his minister; Parris. He thinks that Parris is materialistic and chooses this over religion, “…there were pewter candle sticks upon the alter… but Parris came and for twenty weeks preach nothing but golden candlestick until he had them. ” this shows Proctors rebellious nature and the fact that he doesn’t fear to question Parris. Also John Proctor doesn’t get on with Putnam. They argue over land “that tract is in my bounds. His initial reaction to the rumour of witchcraft is that he thinks its all nonsense. This shows he’s strong minded and doesn’t thing twice about going against typical puritan values. He has a close knit friendship with Rebecca, Francis and Giles as he recognises that they are...
inherently good people. Proctor knows that that they are completely true to there religion and will stand by it whatever the cost. John Proctor feels that Paris and Putnam are stereotypical Puritans. There is therefore a contrast between the two and in this case Proctor makes the right decision as Rebecca, Giles and Francis all become martyrs.
Proctor is a flawed character as he has admitted adultery with Abigail Williams. Proctor is flirtatious with Abigail and enjoys teasing her. Proctor realises what he’s risking and tries to put a stop to it. Abigail tries to remind him of what they had by describing Proctors and hers relationship as a passionate one “I know how you clutched my back behind your house. ” Miller intends the audience to be shocked and disgusted by what Proctor has done. The audience would have little respect for John Proctor at this moment in the play. John proctor and his wife, Elizabeth, seem a typical puritan couple.
The conversation that takes place between husband and wife seems polite but a bit immobile. In the directors notes at the start of act two John Proctor comes home from the village. He sees the pot of soup on the fire and goes to season it. This could indicate that the flavour has gone from there relationship. As what is stopping Elizabeth forgiving and forgetting is that she doesn’t quite know what he still feels for Abigail. When Proctor is sat eating Elizabeth asks John if he saw Abigail in Salem, he says he has but he was with a crowd. Elizabeth
knows that this is a lie and procures the truth from him.
Proctor shows his angry side when he shouts at Elizabeth for divulging her suspicion. “No more! I should have roared you down when first you told me your suspicion… Some dream I had must have mistaken you for God that day. But you’re not, you’re not, and let you remember it! … ” Proctor currently thinks that Elizabeth is not like God, she is not as perfect and that she tries to see him through her own judgment. Proctor feels that she is always trying to discover something that he isn’t doing. He feels guilty for committing adultery and tries to regain her trust but she always seems to be suspicious which holds them back.
The audience at this point dislike Proctor for his anger against his wife who is just trying to stop proctor from committing adultery again. By act four, Elizabeths and Proctors relationship has grown stronger. Elizabeth knows of her husbands forgiveness when he had fought for her freedom by admitting his harlotry to the court. She feels that as he has done this he has taken his first step to redemption. When Proctor makes his decision Elizabeth won’t comment on it. This shows that she now knows her place and knows that its his own decision.
Proctor realises that his wife is the only one he’ll ever love. The audience respect proctors decision as they know that this is the right one. When Mary Warren reveals that she knows about Proctors and Abigail’s affair, before Elizabeth is taken away, Proctor is aggressive and prepared to use violence towards Mary in order to stop her from going to the court, Mary says she has to go o the court, this makes Proctor angry so he replies “ I’ll official you! “ Proctor thinks that Mary should be subservient as she’s just a common servant but as Mary knows his secret his attitude changes towards her.
At this point in the play Proctor acknowledges that all might have to come public. This is a significant moment as he’s willing to blacken his good name in order to save his wife. Proctor comes to term that Mary may be the answer to their problem. The marshal arrives and takes Elizabeth away for witchcraft. Proctor demands that Mary Warren goes to the court and tells them about the girls’ fraudulent behaviour. John Proctor is protective over Mary Warren and supports her when he takes her to the court. Trying to ascertain the truth he says, “we burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment. Proctor hints his sexual misconduct with a Abigail which Danforth doesn’t believe but lets them persist. At the news of his wife pregnancy he knows that his wife will be safe for at least a year. Proctor acts on his friend behalf and pursues the charges, this shows his loyalty to his friends and that he thinks the courts corrupt as he believes the liars are celebrated and believed. This is a significant moment and shows the audience that Proctor is single minded and will stand
- Death of a salesman
- Arthur Miller
- alternative religions
- Free Will
- Good And Evil
- Holy Spirit
- Jesus Christ
- New Testament