In a way, The Crucible has the structure of a classical tragedy, with John Proctor because the play’s tragic hero. Honest, upright, and blunt-spoken, Proctor is an efficient man, however one with a secret, fatal flaw. His lust for Abigail Williams led to their affair, and created Abigail’s jealousy of his spouse, Elizabeth, which sets the whole witch hysteria in motion.
Once the trials start, Proctor realizes that he can cease Abigail’s rampage through Salem however provided that he confesses to his adultery. Such an admission would wreck his good name, and Proctor is, above all, a proud man who places great emphasis on his repute. He ultimately makes an attempt, through Mary warren’s testimony, to call Abigail as a fraud with out revealing the essential information. When this attempt fails, he lastly bursts out with a confession, calling Abigail a “whore” and proclaiming his guilt publicly.
Only then does he notice that it’s too late, that issues have gone too far, and that not even the reality can break the highly effective frenzy that he has allowed Abigail to whip up. Proctor’s confession succeeds only in resulting in his arrest and conviction as a witch, and although he lambastes the court and its proceedings, he’s additionally conscious of his horrible role in permitting this fervor to develop unchecked.
Proctor redeems himself and gives a closing denunciation of the witch trials in his last act. Offered the chance to make a public confession of his guilt and live, he almost succumbs, even signing a written confession. His immense satisfaction and worry of public opinion compelled him to withhold his adultery from the court, however by the end of the play he’s more involved with his personal integrity than his public repute. He, nonetheless, wants to avoid wasting his name, however for personal and religious reasons somewhat than public reasons.
Read About: Witch-Hunting or Witchcraft in The Crucible
Proctor’s refusal to offer a false confession is a real religious and personal stand. Such a confession would dishonor his fellow prisoners, who’re courageous enough to die as testimony to the reality. Perhaps more relevantly, a false admission would additionally dishonor him, staining not simply his public repute, but additionally his soul. By refusing to surrender his personal integrity Proctor implicitly proclaims his conviction that such integrity will bring him to heaven. He goes to the gallows redeemed for his earlier sins. As Elizabeth says to end the play, responding to Hale’s plea that she persuade Proctor to publicly confess:
“He has his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!”
Of the main characters, Abigail is the least complex. She is clearly the villain of the play, more so than Parris or Danforth: she tells lies, manipulates her friends and the whole town, and ultimately sends nineteen innocent people to their deaths. Throughout the hysteria, Abigail’s motivations never appear more complex than simple jealousy and a need to have revenge on Elizabeth Proctor. The language of the play is sort of Biblical, and Abigail looks as if a Biblical character—a Jezebel figure, pushed only by sexual need and a lust for power. Nevertheless, it’s value stating a few background details that, although they don’t mitigate Abigail’s guilt, make her actions more comprehensible.
Abigail is an orphan and an unmarried girl; she thus occupies a low rung on the Puritan Salem social ladder. For younger girls in Salem, the minister and the other male adults are God’s earthly representatives, their authority derived from on excessive. The trials, then, during which the women are allowed to behave as if they’ve a direct connection to God, empower the previously powerless Abigail. Once shunned and scorned by the respectable townsfolk who had heard rumors of her affair with John Proctor, Abigail now finds that she has clout, and she takes full benefit of it. A mere accusation from one among Abigail’s troop is sufficient to incarcerate and convict even the well-respected inhabitant of Salem. Whereas others as soon as reproached her for her adultery, she now has the chance to accuse them of the worst sin of all: devil-worship.
Read About: Title of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller
John Hale, the mental, naive witch-hunter, enters the play in Act I when Parris summons him to look at his daughter, Betty. In an extended commentary on Hale in Act I, Miller describes him as “a tight-skinned, eager-eyed intellectual. This is a beloved errand for him; on being called here to ascertain witchcraft he has felt the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for.” Hale enters in a flurry of activity, carrying massive books and projecting an air of great information. In the early going, he’s the drive behind the witch trials, probing for confessions and inspiring folks to testify.
Over the course of the play, nonetheless, he experiences a change, yet another remarkable than that of some other character. Listening to John Proctor and Mary Warren, he becomes satisfied that they, not Abigail, are telling the reality. In the climactic scene within the court in Act III, he throws his lot in with these opposing the witch trials. In tragic vogue, his about-face comes too late—the trials are not in his arms however relatively in these of Danforth and the theocracy, which has no real interest in seeing its proceedings uncovered as a sham.
Read About: Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: Summary
The failure of his attempts to show the tide renders the once-confident Hale a wrecked man. As his perception in witchcraft falters, so does his faith within the law. In Act IV, it’s he who counsels the accused witches to lie, to admit their supposed sins with a purpose to save their very own lives. In his change of heart and subsequent despair, Hale gains the viewers’s sympathy however not its respect, since he lacks the ethical fiber of Rebecca Nurse or, because it seems, John Proctor. Although Hale acknowledges the evil of the witch trials, his response isn’t defiance however to surrender. He insists that survival is the highest good, even when it means accommodating oneself to injustice—one thing that the really heroic characters can by no means accept.
In this way, The Crucible by Arthur Miller is the representation of real society.
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