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The Role of Fear in The Crucible

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The Role of Fear in The Crucible Essay

Fear is capable of making the irrational rational because of the lack of control that someone may have on himself. Fear is capable of making people do anything to make it go away. Even the most unjustifiable acts can seem reasonable in the moment. In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible fear is used as a weapon among the character as the accusations of witchcraft increase in the town. Abigail, the antagonist, manipulates the people of Salem to save herself. She uses her affair with John Proctor as a weapon against him. It is up to Proctor to either expose Abigail or to keep silent to save his reputation. Throughout the play, John Proctor is in constant fear of himself because of the way the sins affect him and the town.

John Proctor fears that his wife finds out about his affair with Abigail. He doesn’t want the truth to come out to light because it can ruin his marriage. It can also ruin his reputation. In the play The Crucible, John says “…But I will cut my hand off before I’ll ever reach to you again. Wipe is out of mind. We never touched, Abby.” With this quotation, we can see that John Proctor is afraid that Elizabeth finds out that him and Abigail had an affair. He wants Abigail to act like nothing happened, but she keeps looking for him. Proctor does not want his wife to find out that he committed adultery. He only wants to save his marriage. In Act II, Proctor says, “…I have a good reason to think before I charge fraud on Abigail, and I will think on it.” John has a dilemma. He doesn’t know whether to accuse Abigail or stay quiet. Proctor is afraid that if he accuses Abigail of witchcraft she’ll say something about their affair, his marriage might end. John needs to figure out how to save himself. John’s sins have pushed his and Elizabeth’s marriage to the edge.

John Proctor is afraid to lose Salem’s respect for him. He is a very well respected man. Proctor does not want to lose his reputation. In The Crucible, John insists, “Abby, you’ll put it out of mind. I’ll not be comin’ for you more,” he added, “No, no Abby. That’s done with.” In the quotes, we can see that John is trying to push Abigail away. He doesn’t want anything to do with her. Abigail is obsessed with John Proctor. She does not understand that their affair can bring him consequences like losing his family and his reputation. John says, “ …Girl, what ails you? Stop that wailing!” Abigail doesn’t want to leave Proctor alone. Her affair with John can also be dangerous because John is way older than Abigail. She is 17, and he is in his mid-thirties. His reputation in Salem could be ruined. Proctor can be accused and charged as a pedophile. He wants to remain a respected man in Salem. John can lose one of the most important things, his reputation, as a consequence of his actions.

Even though, throughout The Crucible John Proctor feared losing many things , he also showed pride. His pride was able to take over his fear. In Act IV of The Crucible Proctor states, “I have confessed myself.” He also added, “God sees my name; God knows how black my sins are! It is enough.” John confessed his adultery. He wanted to save Elizabeth, his wife. Proctor had to admit that he had an affair with Abigail. He had to pick between the freedom of his wife or him getting charged and accused of adultery or even his death. Though, he pushed his fear aside to save his wife, he felt fear almost throughout the whole play. Proctor had to be pushed to the edge to admit his adultery. He was forced, in a way, to confess. His fear didn’t allow him to be honest with Elizabeth about his sin.

John Proctor is in fear due to the consequences his sins could bring to him and Salem. He didn’t want Elizabeth to find out that he committed adultery. Proctor didn’t want to lose his marriage. He also wanted to avoid Salem from finding out about him and Abigail’s affair. Proctor didn’t want to lose his reputation and get judged as a pedophile.

Most of us go through constant fear. We go through it all the time. When committing sins, we don’t think about the consequences of our actions. Many times, fear pushes us to get trapped in our own emotions. A lot of people keep silent about what they feel or what they have done because of fear. Sometimes, we need fear. We need it to make us stop from making the same mistake over and over again.      

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The Role Of Fear In The Crucible. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
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