John Proctor from "The Crucible": Character Analysis

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Published: Oct 2, 2020

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Words: 1545|Pages: 2|8 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

John Proctor From “The Crucible”: Character Analysis
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The essay analyzes the character of John Proctor in Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible." Proctor is depicted as a well-respected figure in Salem at the beginning of the play, known for his integrity and strong morals. However, as the drama unfolds, internal conflicts arise within him, primarily regarding his reputation and past actions. These conflicts shape his character and lead to significant transformation.

Proctor's internal battle is fueled by his affair with Abigail Williams, a secret that threatens to tarnish his reputation. He grapples with guilt and shame over his actions, leading to a tormented inner struggle. The essay highlights how this affair serves as a pivotal point in Proctor's character development.

As the play progresses, Proctor undergoes a profound change. He ultimately chooses to stand up for what is right, even if it means sacrificing his reputation to save his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, from false accusations of witchcraft. This decision reflects his integrity and values.

Proctor's refusal to sign a false confession in the face of death underscores his commitment to preserving his name and integrity, making him a symbol of moral courage. His character evolves from a man with a dark secret to a heroic figure who challenges the oppressive authority of the Salem witch trials.

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Authur Miller’s play The Crucible is based in Salem, which is engulfed in the hysteria caused by the accusation of children that many believe have partaken in witchcraft. Throughout The Crucible, John Proctor faces a lot of internal conflicts regarding his reputation. As the drama unfolds due to the intense conflict, his character transforms and develops. John Proctor is a man with strong morals, which is why he has major internal conflicts throughout the play. John Proctor’s use in the play is to showcase how the effects of the trial take a toll on the characters in Salem, that's why John Proctor character analysis is chosen as the topic of this essay. The Crucible portrays John Proctor as a paragon for the people of Salem and the change can be attributed to the Salem Witch Trials, his affair, and his desire to keep his name for himself.

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When John Proctor first enters the play, he is seen as a well-respected, leading figure of the community. The people of Salem respect John as shown when Giles Corey and Francis Nurse look to him for help when their wives are arrested. In one way or another, he can be seen as a tormented individual because he seems to put on this facade to the people in town but then has to go home to suffer through his thoughts. As his portrayal progresses, the readers quickly see that he is suffering through a huge internal battle. It is shown that “he is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time but against his own vision of decent conduct”. It is clear that he is fighting internal demons because he sees himself as fraudulent. Although it is not clear, the reader can infer that something had occurred between both Abigail and John, which is why he has this internal conflict.

As the play comes to an end, John has undergone a change. When he is facing a hanging, he decides to save his wife. Throughout the play, both Elizabeth and John often underestimate their love for each other. During the play, he is at a constant battle with himself about his infidelity and the accusation of witchcraft only further drags him down. He and Elizabeth coming to terms with his affair and finally speaking on it, truthfully, is a turning point for both characters and aids in his change. This affair aids in his change because it breaks him. As stated before, John is seen as a dominant and leading figure in Salem and having sinned so immensely as John would not go over well with the community.

His best and most valuable possession is his name and throughout the play, he is driven to give that up for his wife Elizabeth Proctor. Although the affair may give the readers a reason to look down on John, his decision to tell the court about his affair ironically demonstrates his goodness. At the end of the play, Proctor refuses to slander himself by allowing the court to nail his false confession to the church door. This action further depicts Proctor's integrity. “The play’s climax comes as Proctor, who has long struggled with the guilt over his infidelity and with his powerlessness to assert his innocence in the face of an implacable and tyrannous authority, realizes that he cannot destroy his true identity by signing a false confession: “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!” The play’s final image of an innocent Proctor going to his unjust hanging was to be uncannily echoed three years after the play was written when Miller was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and convicted of contempt of Congress”. He refuses to lose the goodness of his name which is why he rejects his name being put

When discussing The Crucible, character analysis of John Proctor is valuable as he changes for the better during the play. The events in the play shape him into the new character we see in the end. His change adds a sense of realness because he doesn’t buckle under the pressure of authority and stands up for what is right. His change shows the development and improvement characters can make within a play. The Salem Witch Trials, his affair, and his desire to keep his name attributes to his huge change and immense character development.

John Proctor - One of The Most Important Characters in “The Crucible”

The Crucible is a 1953 play written by Arthur Miller. It is a historical and partly fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts from 1692 to 1693. John Proctor is a hardworking middle-aged farmer, father, and husband. He values honesty. Ironically, he is hiding a dirty secret of his own. John Proctor is one of the most important characters in “The Crucible” and can be considered as the leading male role of the play.

John Proctor is faced with strong internal conflict concerning his reputation. This internal conflict changes his transformation as a dynamic character, which is a character whose traits or personality transform as the conflict starts to unfold. He is a middle-aged family man, hardworking, values his reputation, and a man of integrity. Proctor is also honest and upright, but he has a secret that could change his reputation forever. His desire for Abigail Williams led to their affair, and this led to Abigail's jealousy of his wife, Elizabeth, which sets the entire witch hysteria in motion. A motivation is when they warranted and jailed his wife Elizabeth. He doesn’t believe in witches and threatens people who don’t support him. He even rips the warrant Cheever brings him against Elizabeth. '(ripping the warrant) Out with you! . . . Damn the Deputy Governor! Out of my house!'. This quote shows that Proctor has no respect for the court. He knows that his wife Elizabeth is innocent, but if the church finds her guilty, they will have Elizabeth hanged. This quote shows Proctors motivation for being against the court and essentially the church.

John Proctor is the protagonist of the play. Once he comes into the play, the actual plot begins. Up to that point, the play’s exposition is introducing the town, some people that live in the town, and the big situation that will lead to the plot which is the accusations of witchcraft. Without John, the play would just be a retelling of an awful time in American history. His presence makes the risks of the play more precise, because John has a problem which is to free his wife and his friends from untrue accusations of witchcraft, but he is asked to let go of his dignity, honor, and his good name to do so. While we might understand with John, we also know that he’s an imperfect protagonist. His mistake of lust led him to commit the adultery that makes him exposed to Abigail’s manipulations. '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!'. This quote shows Proctor's qualities of morals, honor, and integrity. Proctor does not know how he can continue living without his good name. He doesn't know how he could live with the shame of signing himself to a lie within himself and his neighbors.

John Proctor is a weak man in the first act. He cannot criticize people because he is an example of a sinner. It would be very deceitful to talk about others while lacking morals. In addition, we see him beating his servant with violence even though she is a young girl. John Proctor also blames Elizabeth of being too cold with him. He always gets nervous when he talks to his wife. He talks furiously with Mary when she returns home after having gone to Salem: “I’ll whip you if you dare leave this house again”. He acts like a short-tempered man who gets angry fast. Despite what John Proctor did, he is not all bad. He refuses Abigail’s tricks and finally ends his relationship with her. He starts to show more attention to Elizabeth and regrets his sin. This demonstrates that John Proctor now wants to show to his wife how much he values her and that his affair with Abigail is just a big mistake. In this quote “I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven months she’s been gone, I have not moved to somewhere where I don’t think to please you” (54), we can see how much effort John is putting to pay off his sin. John wants to be forgiven and show her that he can be an amazing husband.

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In conclusion, “The Crucible” has many important characters, but the most important one is John Proctor. Proctor later on in the play becomes the protagonist, so this makes him a main person who plays a major role. We learn about his downfalls, motivations, and reputation. Overall, John is a man who did some unforgivable actions, but he tries to redeem himself.

Hook Examples for “The Crucible” Essay

  • Unearthing Hidden Truths: Step back in time to the Salem witch trials and uncover the layers of deception and hysteria that plagued this community, as Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” serves as a mirror reflecting timeless human flaws.
  • The Specter of Accusation: Delve into the chilling atmosphere of Salem, where mere words could condemn a person to death, and explore how accusations and fear can ignite a destructive wildfire.
  • Witch Hunts Across History: Examine the historical context of witch hunts, from Salem to the McCarthy era, and analyze how “The Crucible” sheds light on the dangers of intolerance and persecution in any time period.
  • A Play of Allegory: Unravel the layers of symbolism in Miller’s work, as “The Crucible” serves as a powerful allegory for the consequences of blind conformity and the erosion of individuality.
  • The Crucible’s Timeless Relevance: Consider how the themes of truth, justice, and the abuse of power explored in the play continue to resonate with contemporary audiences, highlighting the enduring importance of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece.
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John Proctor From “The Crucible”: Character Analysis. (2022, Jun 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from
“John Proctor From “The Crucible”: Character Analysis.” GradesFixer, 16 Jun. 2022,
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