Tragedy Of The Common Man Essay, Research Paper
In, The Crucible, several girls were found dancing, playing games and making a couple acts that could have been considered as witchcraft. Instead of these girls admitting to these acts and getting into a little bit of trouble, they start accusing other people of witchcraft just to get out of the trouble that they were in. As a result many people were hanged and one person died from being stoned. After reading the play and seeing the movie of The Crucible, I now know what the tragedy of the common man is. I know what it is because it was displayed through out the story. The tragedy of the common man is when a high standing basically good man creates a flaw. This flaw in turn causes a downfall for this character in the story. Then the man recognizes his shortcomings, which in the end creates the audience to feel sorrow. Most often, the sorrow is from the death of the man. In, The Crucible, John Proctor represents an example of the tragedy of the common man.
We learn from the beginning of the book that John Proctor is basically a good man and one of the most respected people in town. Proctor is so well respected because first of all he is from a noble family in this town of Salem, Massachusetts. Also, he owns a large amount of land and back then the more land you owned the more powerful you were, and the more powerful you were, meant you got more respect. John has a wife named Elizabeth and three children. The name Proctor is very well known and later important in the book. Proctor owns a farm that he works extremely hard on, even on Sundays which is the day of church and rest for the Puritans who are extremely religious. From the definition of the tragedy of the common man, the above details qualify him for being so high standing and basically a good man. We also are aware of the fact that Mr. Proctor had an affair with Abigail Williams, a seventeen-year-old women who lead the accusations of witchcraft. John knew Abigail because she worked in the Proctor house until Goody Proctor learned of her lechery with John. Abigail is jealous of Elizabeth and is out to get her vengeance with her and will do anything to be with Proctor. When the witch trials started Abigail told John that they were making up the accusations. Now this may cause a flaw because John will have to make the decision of telling or not telling the court that Abby is a fraud.
The third part of the definition of the tragedy of the common man is that there needs to be a flaw that causes a downfall in this character. John Proctor has several flaws that all lead to his downfall. One flaw is his inability to forgive himself for committing adultery with Abigail and disrespecting his wife. He thinks that he only needs to forgive his wife for his lechery but in reality, just how Elizabeth tells him, he needs to forgive himself. Proctor is also extremely reckless with his behavior and free thinking which are both other flaws of his. His freethinking is the reason he has such reckless behavior. Several examples of his free thinking are committing adultery, farming on Sundays instead of going to church, not being the good Puritan he s supposed to be and when he brings Mary Warren to court to testify against Abigail. Committing adultery, farming on Sundays instead of going to church are freethinking because he isn t thinking like the good puritan he s supposed to be. Taking Mary to court is freethinking because most people would not try to get involved with the witch trials because of the fear of the girls accusing them of witchcraft. When John has all of these flaws, they cause a downfall of his character in the story. This downfall was when he was accused of witchcraft, which happened because of his several flaws mentioned above. This downfall will lead to some unhappy consequences. These consequences will be spoken of later in the essay.
In act four, when Hawthorne requests Proctor to sign the document of him confessing to witch craft, John recognizes his flaws and short comings. He recognizes them because he realizes that everyone in the town of Salem who respected him, most importantly his wife and children, will lose some, if not all of this respect. This will happen because by posting his signed name on the church, everyone will see it and know that John is a sell-out to his friends and family. His friends and family will know that he made a false statement unlike the other people who didn t which resulted in them being hanged. If Proctor tells the truth and doesn t make the false statement he will be considered brave, courageous and not a sell-out. Here he is also able to forgive himself for having an affair with Abigail. He then is recognizing his shortcoming, which is the fourth part of the definition of the tragedy of the common man, which is when he refuses to submit his name to the document. The consequences because of this were that he was hanged, which results with the audience feeling sorrow. The audience feeling sorrow is the last part of the definition of the tragedy of the common man.
We feel this sorrow also because John Proctor, an innocent man just like the others who were hanged and one who was pressed were killed. They were killed because of these girls who didn t want to get in trouble for dancing and having fun in the woods. How could the judicial system just watch and let this happen? The judicial system was at fault because they let all of these innocent people die. Also, isn t it ironic that the people who made false confessions lived and the people who didn t, died. All five parts of the definition of the tragedy of the common man were shown by John Proctor. In The Crucible, John Proctor represents an example of the tragedy of the common man.