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“John Proctor is the Tragic Hero of The Crucible”?

A tragic hero is a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy. During the play The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller, the character John Proctor suffers a change in fortune from happiness to misery. Proctor is an honest, brave man that carries a hidden fact, a fatal flaw. Proctor’s flaw is his lust for Abigail Williams that throughout the play leads to jealousy and hysteria and in the end results in his own death. Proctor is considered to be a tragic hero; this is because he suffered from his bad decisions, which were the causes of the trials. Abigail, a true symbol of evil, defeated him. She influenced him to betray his wife Elizabeth, leaving her lonely and forgotten. Proctor tremendously regrets his flaw and feels guilt even though Elizabeth forgave him.

Proctor marriage still existed but it was very cold and suspicion was everywhere. Everything led by Abigail seduced Proctor. All she wanted was to be better than Elizabeth and defeat her. It was Abigail’s hate and envy that lead something that wasn’t a big thing, into a big confusion. Proctor certainly made mistakes, and he paid for them with his life. No one is perfect, every human being has flaws. Many are courageous, but few are heroic. Proctor showed his heroism by taking responsibility for his mistakes, risking his life in the battle against evil, and doing none of it out of selfishness. He wasn’t trying to save himself, blackening his name did no good for him. Proctor denies he has anything to do with witchcraft. He comes close to confessing to witchcraft but realizes that it disgraces his good name and it’s all that he will leave his children. Proctor says, ” I have three children-how may I teach them to walk like men in the world?” there, he reflects upon the blackening of his name and chooses to die with dignity.

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He stood up for the innocent people that were wrongly accused and died leaving the message that for him, the truth was more important than his own life. Proctor also explains to the judge “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!” With this argument, Proctor dashes all hopes of living and has established himself as a tragic hero. On the other hand, there are some points that could state that John Proctor isn’t a tragic hero. Some people support the idea that if Proctor really was a sincere, brave and decent man, that he wouldn’t leave his sons and wife behind with no one to take care of them. Proctor stopped going to church because he accused Paris of not talking about God anymore, only the devil.

This leads to questioning other characters such as Hale. Hale goes to Proctor’s house and asks him to list the Ten Commandments. Proctor lists nine and is reminded by Elizabeth “you forgot adultery John, adultery.” Adultery committed by John Proctor is definitely a point against his imagery as a hero. All the facts that he has an affair with Abigail then lie to the court and leaves his family behind are controversial to the heroic figure. My personal opinion is that Proctor is the only sensible character we are introduced to. He is the first one to notice that the witchcraft belief is going too far and instead of allowing his own town and friends to be fooled, he decides to take an attitude. He bravely faces the fact that sadly enough in Salem, the liars have a greater chance of living because of a great influence mixed up with hysteria and tractors. Proctor doesn’t accept the fact that innocent people are dying because of a made-up story.

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Proctor is a human being like others, he is good-hearted and like everyone else, has his own mistakes and flaws. No one in the world is perfect and I think we can’t be so judgmental and agree that a man that gave away this own life with dignity, to save his town cannot be called a tragic hero because of a flaw. Hence, the protagonist John Proctor is definitely a man of distinguished valour. Moreover, he is distinguished by exceptional courage, aiding him to fight for a cause. Even though he is an honest and pure character, one of his few unambiguous flaws, is a fatal one. The long-term consequence of his affair with Abigail is the cause of his tragic death. Proctor’s personal integrity is determinant to his fate, but paradoxically, it also leads Miller’s ‘hero’ to his self-salvation, as stated by Elizabeth at the end of the play: “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!”

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"John Proctor is the Tragic Hero of The Crucible"?. (2021, Jun 16). Retrieved August 14, 2022, from