John Proctor As A Protagonist- Damn Good Essay, Research Paper
John Proctor s Escalation over Corruption
In the crucible, John Proctor tore off the shackles of guilt that held him back from admitting that he was intimate with Abigail Williams to save his wife from the injustices of the court and expose the frauds as he recognizes his responsibility to society. At first, John aspired to keep a remote distance from the trials so that his good name would not be impaired. However, when Elizabeth Proctor was apprehended, he was left with no other alternative and thus admitted to having an affair with Abigail. He went to court to clear his wife s name, but he witnessed the evil carried out not only upon his wife, but to many others like her; because of the malevolence that Abigail Williams brought upon the town. The unfairness of the court began with the hysteria that allowed people to believe that the upstanding people who were accused, were committing absurd crimes such as communing with the devil. The members of the Salem community became beleaguered in the hysterical climate and soon became active to convey their repressed grudges against others by accusing them of witchcraft. This hysteria caused injustices in the court, which allowed Abigail s spiteful jealousy to arise as she made false allegations stating that upright citizens of Salem empathized with the devil. Although John knew he could easily have freed himself from the chastity of the indictment by testifying against the others, he knew that it would be immoral, and even though he wanted to be free, he did not want to beget any trouble upon the others. His desire to keep his good name led him to make the heroic choice not to make a false confession and to go to his death without signing his name to an erroneous confession. By refusing to surrender his name, he redeemed himself for his earlier failure and died with integrity.
Proctor had a chance at the beginning of the play to testify against Abigail and stop her fallacious accusations, but John s desire of keeping his faultless reputation compelled him not to testify against Abigail. In Salem, there was no room for deviation from the social normalcy of the society, because an individual whose private life did not conform to the established moral laws represents a threat to the good of the people and to the rule of God and true religion. But when Elizabeth s name aroused in the trial during various occasions, a search warrant was issued for the Proctor s home. When the court searched the house, a doll was found that Mary gave to Elizabeth which contained the needle purposely situated in the doll. Beforehand, the spirits of Elizabeth Proctor supposedly stabbed Abigail with a needle. Elizabeth was then apprehended due to the poppet. John went into the court with Mary the following day with a signed deposition stating that all of the girls pretended as though they had come in contact with the devil. Danforth was reluctant to believe the statement held any truthfulness and pondered why Abigail would aspire to kill Elizabeth Proctor. After this display, John Proctor was forced to admit that he broke the commandment against adultery and Francis was horrified at the information. John Proctor despondently cried, Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me! A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that. (p.110). Weeping the proclamation of Abigail s innate evil:
She thinks to dance with me on my wife s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise of such sweat. But it is a Whores vengeance, and you must see it; I set myself entirely in your hands. I know you must see it now.
John Proctor stepped up to being a protagonist at this point in the play. This is where he felt his devotion for his wife to be greater than anything and he would not allow for her to be plagued by the hysteria of the court. John Proctor shamefully admitted another declaration of honor to the court, I have made a bell of my honor! I have rung the doom of my good name-you will believe me, Mr. Danforth! My wife is innocent, except she knew a whore when she saw one! (p.111). Governor Danforth and Judge Hathorne may have been getting hints of deceit at this point in the play, but they did not want to publicly admit that they were deceived by a group of girls, while Parris does not want the trials to end as a fraud because having a lying daughter and niece would end his employment in Salem. Therefore, the judge and governor react to Proctor s claims by accusing him of attempting to undermine the court, which in the theory of Salem, is amounted to trying to undermine the power of God himself.
At the end of Act I, Tituba confessed to witchcraft. This offered an example to Abigail Williams as a way out, which Abigail seizes. After she confessed to consorting with the devil, the next step in pardoning herself from sin was to accuse other upright members of the community of being witches. Thus shifting the burden of embarrassment and disgrace from her shoulders to those that she named. At the end of Act I, Abigail facetiously stated, I want to open myself! I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil! (p.48). This started the pattern of arraignments, and after the other girls viewed Abigail s success, they followed suit. This built up into a mass hysteria and Abigail took advantage of this to accuse Elizabeth Proctor as well as many other respectable individuals of witchcraft.
Reverend Hale soon caught on the charade that the girls were pretending and when Elizabeth Proctor suppressed the truth about the affair and did not expose to the court that John had committed the sin of adultery, John was apprehended. Hale then vehemently disrupted and said:
Excellency, it is a natural lie to tell; I beg you, stop now before another in condemned! I may shut my conscience to it no more-private vengeance is working through this testimony! From the beginning this man has struck me true. By my oath to Heaven, I believe him now, and I pray you call back his wife before we (p.114).
Abigail s claims of devil-worship and witchcraft soon began to direct the court. By aligning herself in a foundation of good morals in the eyes of others, she gains power over the court as do the other girls in her group and their words are as rock-hard as the evidence became..
Later in the story, Abigail and Mercy Lewis ran away to Barbados fearing a rebellion. Reverend Parris and Hale feared the same catastrophe and pleaded with Danforth to postpone the hangings for a week. After being brutally rebuffed, Reverend Hale called upon Elizabeth to convince her to try to persuade John to lie and to confess to witchcraft so they may both keep their lives, but Elizabeth promised nothing. Reverend Hale stated, You know, do you not, that I have no connection with the court? I come of my own, Goody Proctor. I would save your husband s life, for if he is taken I count myself his murderer. Do you understand me? When they were alone, John said he would confess. He proceeded to sign a declaration stating that he was involved in conjuring the devil, but he then realizes that his name will be soiled when his confession would be posted upon the church door for the town to view. He cried in vehemence:
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. (p. 133).
John tore the confession to shreds not wanting to let down the other prisoners and stand up for what was truthful. Parris and Hale begged Elizabeth to intervene and stop him from what he was doing, but she answers with the last words of the play, He have his goodness now. God Forbid I take it from him! (p.145).
John Proctor s first step toward becoming a tragic protagonist was when his wife was seized and he broke through the restraints that once held him back by his guilt for being intimate with Abigail Williams. After seeing the evil carried out upon the many innocent people, he made every effort to expose the frauds and he recognized his responsibility to society by not making any false statements to save his life and beget trouble upon others. In doing this, he found his true character. He did not disappoint the people of the town of Salem and died for his pride, his wife, the innocent people that had to pay for the wrongful accusations against them, and to expose the evil of Abigail Williams. In this, John Proctor is the true protagonist of the play.