John Proctor's Flaws: a Tragic Hero's Downfall

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About this sample


Words: 834 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 834|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

John Proctor, the central character in Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible," is a complex and flawed individual who ultimately meets a tragic fate. While he is portrayed as a noble and upright man, Proctor's flaws and inner struggles contribute to his downfall. This essay will explore the various flaws of John Proctor, including his pride, his infidelity, and his inability to forgive himself. Through a close analysis of the text, it becomes evident that these flaws not only make Proctor a relatable and human character but also contribute to the overall theme of the play.

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One of the central flaws in John Proctor's character is his excessive pride. Proctor is a proud man who values his reputation and his honor above all else. This flaw is evident in his refusal to confess to witchcraft, even when faced with the threat of death. Proctor's pride prevents him from admitting his wrongdoing and ultimately leads to his tragic end. As Miller writes, "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!" (Miller 143). Proctor's refusal to tarnish his name and admit his guilt highlights the destructive power of pride and its ability to blind individuals to their own flaws.

Furthermore, Proctor's pride is also evident in his strained relationship with the church and its authority figures. His refusal to attend church regularly and his questioning of Reverend Parris's motives demonstrate his independent and rebellious nature. While these qualities may be admirable in some contexts, they ultimately contribute to his downfall. Proctor's pride prevents him from fully conforming to the expectations of society, ultimately leading to his isolation and his tragic end.

Another significant flaw in John Proctor's character is his infidelity. Proctor's affair with Abigail Williams, a young woman who is also his former servant, reveals his weakness and lack of self-control. This betrayal of trust not only damages his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth, but also tarnishes his reputation within the community. Miller underscores the consequences of Proctor's infidelity when Elizabeth says, "I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man" (Miller 57). Elizabeth's words highlight the profound impact that Proctor's actions have on his personal and moral integrity.

Moreover, Proctor's infidelity becomes a weapon in the hands of Abigail Williams, who uses their past relationship to manipulate and incriminate Proctor and his wife. The revelation of the affair contributes to the hysteria and chaos of the witch trials, ultimately leading to Proctor's arrest and execution. Through Proctor's flawed actions, Miller explores the consequences of infidelity and the destructive power of secrets.

Lastly, John Proctor's inability to forgive himself serves as another flaw that contributes to his tragic fate. Proctor carries the weight of his sins and struggles with guilt throughout the play. He believes himself to be irredeemable and unworthy of forgiveness. This self-condemnation is evident in his conversation with Elizabeth, where he says, "I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud. I am not that man. My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothing's spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before" (Miller 132). Proctor's inability to forgive himself prevents him from finding inner peace and redemption, ultimately leading to his tragic end.

Furthermore, Proctor's inability to forgive himself is also reflected in his strained relationship with Elizabeth. Despite her forgiveness and willingness to move past his infidelity, Proctor continues to carry the burden of his guilt. This inability to let go of his past mistakes further isolates Proctor and contributes to his tragic downfall. Miller uses Proctor's struggle with self-forgiveness to explore the theme of redemption and the power of forgiveness in the face of personal flaws.


In conclusion, John Proctor's flaws, including his pride, infidelity, and inability to forgive himself, play a crucial role in his tragic fate. Through the exploration of these flaws, Miller creates a relatable and flawed protagonist who ultimately meets a tragic end. Proctor's excessive pride blinds him to his own flaws and prevents him from admitting his guilt. His infidelity not only damages his relationship with his wife but also provides ammunition for his enemies. Lastly, Proctor's inability to forgive himself serves as a tragic burden that ultimately leads to his downfall.

Miller's portrayal of Proctor's flaws not only adds depth to his character but also highlights the universal themes of pride, betrayal, and redemption. Proctor serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the consequences that can arise from unchecked pride and the devastating impact of betraying the trust of others. By examining Proctor's flaws, we are given an opportunity for self-reflection and a deeper understanding of human nature.

Overall, John Proctor's flaws align him with the tragic heroes of literature and serve as a reminder of the complexity of human nature. Through his flaws, Proctor becomes a relatable and flawed character, allowing us to empathize with his struggles and ultimately learn from his tragic fate.

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Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Classics, 2003.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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John Proctor’s Flaws: A Tragic Hero’s Downfall. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“John Proctor’s Flaws: A Tragic Hero’s Downfall.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
John Proctor’s Flaws: A Tragic Hero’s Downfall. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
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