Crucible As A Hero Essay Research Paper

Crucible As A Hero Essay, Research Paper

A tragedy should bring fear and pity to the reader. A man in this tragedy not

should be exceptionally righteous, but his faults should come about because of a

certain irreversible error on his part. This man should find a bad or fatal

ending to add to the tragedy of the story, for this man in the tragic hero. The

protagonist John Proctor portrays a tragic hero in The Crucible; his hamartia of

adultery causes great internal struggles, he displays hubris by challenging

authority, and he encounters catastrophe through recognition and reversal. John

Proctor?s decision to betray his wife causes internal struggles and ultimately

leads to his catastrophe at the end of the drama. Hamartia is the primary error

of the tragic hero which provokes part of his misfortune. Proctor?s serious

mistake of adultery delivers problems with Abigail Williams and indirectly

causes his jailing. Abigail is a grown young woman, and yet she is an orphan who

mistakes John Proctor?s sex for true love. When Proctor tells Abigail that the

relationship can no longer continue, the girl becomes angry and sorrowful

(1098). In order to prove Abigail?s sinfulness and to discredit her in front

of the court, Proctor proclaims that he had an affair with this evil child. The

outraged court officials summon Elizabeth Proctor to find the truth. When asked

about her husband, Elizabeth?s soul is twisted, for reporting the truth could

destroy her husband?s reputation, but lying means breaking her solemn oath to

God. Because she is selfless, Elizabeth chooses to lie and save her husband, but

perhaps condemn herself to hell for such a sin. This scene indicates dramatic

irony, for Proctor knows that which Elizabeth is not aware of, and this is that

he has already ?confessed it? (1148). The court jails Proctor; Elizabeth

Proctor?s selfless act backfires. Proctor?s hamartia of adultery indirectly

causes his jailing and gives him the reputation of a liar. The court views his

real truth as a lie and believes he defies authority. Although John Proctor does

not truly defy authority in this scene of the play, for he tells the truth and

his wife lies, he challenges control in many other instances. John Proctor

exposes hubris through his hate of Reverend Parris. Hubris is placing ones self

equal to authority or to God, and it is a necessary trait of the tragic hero.

John Proctor proclaims that he does not go to Church, an act the court and

townspeople view as a revolt on the supremacy of God, because the Reverend

Parris is corrupt. Parris is greedy and cares more about the sake of his

reputation that the health of his own daughter. Proctor resents the Church

because Parris runs it. In the eyes of officials, this casual negligence of God

turns Proctor into an unchristian, sinful rebel. Though Proctor?s reasons for

disregarding the Church are quite reasonable, people do not accept them in this

time of devils and evil. The tragic hero not only places himself as an equal of

God, but as an equal of court authority as well. John Proctor insults the court

by tearing up a search warrant, and officials later accuse him of trying to

overthrow the court because of his controversial evidence against Abigail and

the girls. When Herrick and Cheever appear at the Proctor home to capture and

take away Elizabeth Proctor for witchcraft, Proctor vigorously protests, for he

knows that Abigail Williams created a scheme in order to get rid of his wife.

John Proctor does not tolerate this; because he is a tragic hero, he does not

allow another soul to suffer for his mistake. As a challenge to court authority,

he tears up the search warrant (1127). This act escalates the war between

Proctor and the court. Proctor will go to the extreme, even if it means

punishment by death, in order to save his wife. Proctor delivers to the court

his statement that Abigail and the other girls are frauds. He has no desire to

bring forth this information because he knows it will simply anger Abigail and

most likely ruin him because of Abigail?s power. His statement is necessary,

though, to the salvation of his wife. When Danforth hears John Proctor?s

shocking revelation that the girls are frauds, he is outraged and so dismisses

this evidence as an attempt to overthrow the court (1134). Danforth feels he

must choose Abigail?s argument over that of Proctor?s, for otherwise the

townspeople might view Danforth as a murderer because of his orders to execute

those people accused of witchcraft by Abigail and the girls. In this case,

Danforth bestows upon John Proctor the image of a man of hubris in order to

protect his own reputation. Proctor knows that Danforth will never accept his

evidence of the girls as frauds, and this in part causes his resolution. Near

the end of The Crucible, Proctor believes that he has lost the battle of

witchcraft. He feels there is no hope that the court will free him from

execution, and he panics. A person can be strong for his entire life, but when

the moment of death comes, he will crack. If given a choice between life, but by

lying, or death, but through honor, the decision is made more difficult through

the hysteria experienced. John Proctor chooses life, though he knows this means

a life of regret and dishonesty. Proctor does, however, realize his mistake in

choosing this sort of life over an honorable death before it is too late.

Proctor?s decision to ultimately choose a death of honor over a life of shame

is the major reversal of the play. Reversal is the change of fortune that

results from recognition, or learned knowledge that results in a change of

action in a character, of any tragic hero. John Proctor?s recognition is his

discovery that he contains goodness. ?For now I do think I see some shred of

goodness in John Proctor? (1166). When Proctor believes that he is a man of no

decency, he chooses to live by confessing witchcraft, since this lie fits his

personality. Through Elizabeth?s support, this tragic hero sees the goodness

he holds and acts on it by reversal and by choosing an honorable death. He

realizes that this action is one that would bring about Elizabeth?s

forgiveness, and her mercy is what he searches for throughout the play. John

Proctor?s sudden change through recognition and reversal is a major crisis in

the play, and from this stems his catastrophe. Proctor?s catastrophe is that

he will hang. The catastrophe is the closing part of a drama that results from

the crisis. Because John Proctor decides to deny witchcraft through his

recognition and reversal, he finds catastrophe by his sentence to hang. The

catastrophe also ties up the drama and gives a greater emphasis that John

Proctor is a tragic hero, for he accepts his death with silence and shows a

capacity for suffering. Another quality of the tragic man is belief in his own

freedom, show by John Proctor in the catastrophe. Proctor?s freedom is death;

death is his escape from the Puritan world which persecutes and punishes him

with cries of witchcraft. Overall, the catastrophe reveals the tragedy and

integrity of John Proctor, making this character a tragic hero. John Proctor

shows that he is a tragic hero through his struggles within the play. He

struggles with his sin of adultery, for it causes breaks in his bonds between

his wife and Abigail. He grapples with authority, for Proctor is not one who

listens to authority simply because it is the excepted thing to do. He also

faces death because he chooses to be a noble man and denies all charges of

witchcraft. Though John Proctor is not a perfect man, his beliefs and values are

in the right place; he listens to his heart. When his head tells him to listen

to the court because it is the law, and when Hale tells him to choose to live as

an accused witch, Proctor does not listen because he knows that these acts are

not in his best interest. He follows his soul, a lesson the whole world should

learn to follow.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Literature, Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes.

Ed. Ellen Bowler, et al. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1999.

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