How Arthur Miller Effectively Illustrates the Strength of John Proctor, a Character in His Play, the Crucible

In the text, The Crucible, with the use of several different examples Arthur Miller represents the extent of his character, John Proctors strength.Arthur Miller begins the play with an example which immediately indicates the strength of John Proctor to the reader of the play, this early introduction implies how Proctors strength may prove to be a vital part of the play or a necessity in his character. In this example he states, “This predilection for minding other peoples business was time-honoured among the people of Salem, and it undoubtedly created many of the suspicions which were to feed the coming madness. It was also, in my opinion, one of the things that a John Proctor would rebel against, for the time of the armed camp had almost passed, and since the country was reasonably-although not wholly- safe, the old disciplines were beginning to rankle.” Clearly this means that although vain enjoyment in minding other peoples business was a fairly common practice in Salem at the time, John Proctor had the strength to oppose it. It also states that in its desire to modernize the theocratic society of Salem was having to watch some of its “old disciplines” disappear through the rebellion of such John Proctors. Miller continues this idea by saying “Simply it was this: for good purposes, even higher purposes, the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies.” This once again simply states the main aim of the society. Nowhere in the above explanation is it mentioned that these practices, which are set up in order to protect the people, may be opposed if found faulty, nor does it specifically mention anything about how, if an opposition were to arise how they may rebel in an orderly fashion. This strength, the one required to oppose a whole society and its foundation is also later brought up as a dominant character trait that John Proctor possesses. Again early in the text Arthur Miller indicates this strength. He says that the witch-hunt, which he also described earlier as “coming madness”, was “not, however, a mere repression. It was also, and as importantly, a long overdue opportunity for everyone so inclined to express their publicly his guilt and sins, under the cover of accusation against the victims.” This later proves to be a hint of a direct reference to John Proctor and his strength to confess to his own guilt and sins. As we read on, we see that Miller clearly in his introduction of John Proctor states the strength he projects to society and all those who know him, but were also introduced to another strength, strength that Proctor sees in himself. Proctor is described as a “farmer in his middle thirties.” Being the presumably average age of that time Proctor may be perceived to be muscular, this assumption is also lead to by his occupation which would obviously require a large amount of physical strength. Arthur Miller continues to say that, “He was the kind of man- powerful of body, even-tempered, and not easily led-who cannot refuse support to partisans without drawing their deepest resentment.” We now see that Proctor was not only strong physically but he was an important part of the society. As i said this, strength is now countered by another strength. Miller writes, “But as we shall see, the steady manner he displays does not spring from an untroubled soul. He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct.” We see that although all we know of him till his introduction is his apparent strength and now we see a man who is, but cannot regard himself as being, strong. He is projecting strength which he does not believe in because he sees himself as a weak sinner. To sum Proctors introduction up Miller says “Proctor, respected and even feared in Salem, has come to regard himself as a kind of fraud.”Miller then carries on presenting a scene with Proctor and Abigail, a seventeen year old, “strikingly beautiful girl” who John had an affair with, to once again show the extent of Proctors strength. It is clear to see he visits her to find out about how the witchcraft truly began but it is also clear to see that not only is Proctor making light of the situation, but that he is doing it only in front of Abigail. When told how strong he is by Abigail, John Proctor replies with a short smile indicating that he knows what she is trying to do, which is tease him. This game that they seemed to be playing continued until Proctor turns to leave but this only lasts for a second as Abigail throws herself into his path, begging him to speak lovingly to her. He not only moves her away from his path but he says “I come to see what mischief your uncles brewin now. Put it out of mind, Abby.” This shows Proctors strength as we know that some weakness is shown in Proctor, who lives quite far away from the city and has travelled the distance to perhaps clarify something he heard but more likely to be to meet Abby. Going back to the line we see how determined he is to put his sins in the past in the way in which he moves Abigail from his path. We also see the tremendous amount of strength it takes for him to turn away from something or someone who he had grown so fond of and who uses her beauty as far as she possibly can to try to win Proctors heart. He refuses to give into this seduction because it will prove that there is a reason for him to feel guilty and will cause him to believe hes weaker than he thinks he is or wants to be.The Crucible

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