Adultery and shame drove a single man to engage in a quest for truth. Life in Salem, Massachusetts was a constant struggle consisting of false accusations rampant among members of the community. John Proctor was the most dignified, capable, and stubborn in the fact that he would not allow his wife to die as a result of his own previous mistakes. John Proctor was the most honourable man in the play, The Crucible.
The most decorous man in the play, Mr. Proctor, persisted to wrangle for truth in the best interest of the people accused of heinous activities under the court of Salem and its witchcraft proceedings. John convinced one of the so-called witness girls, Mary Warren, to turn on her friends and do what she knew was right, no matter how it affects her. In convincing her Proctor said, “Make your peace with it! Now hell and Heaven grapple on our backs and all our old pretense is ripped away—make your peace!” John Proctor devoted himself to making the ethical choice in spite of his past in which he had an affair that directly betrayed his wife, Elizabeth. Mrs. Proctor was being accused of witchcraft by the girl, Abigail Williams, whom of which her husband had an affair with. John Proctor also relinquished his dignity when he refused to perjure himself and proclaim that he was guilty of witchcraft.
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Reverend Hale commanded him to disclose that he was a witch though he was not because it would save his life. In response, he said to him, “Would you give them such a lie? Say it. Would you ever give them this? You would not; if tongs of fire were singing you would not! It is evil. Good then—it is evil, and I do it!” Proctor desperately tried to replenish his dignity to himself and his wife by never giving up and abiding by his beliefs, values that he was so confident in that he considered them to be truths, neither he nor his wife were guilty of witchcraft. The shame John felt led him to persist in his goal of avenging Abigail Williams’ lies.
Mr. Proctor, ashamed of his previous actions, felt that it was necessary to prove to Elizabeth that he was capable of complete love and faith. In his temptation to cheat again he resisted going to see his partner in Salem. When his wife questioned him about such activities he retorted, “I have no business in Salem.” She replied, “You did speak of going, earlier in the week.” Mr. Proctor in shame contradicted, “I thought better of it since.” This was a huge achievement for Mr. Proctor, turning down a great temptation because he knew Elizabeth was the one he loved so dearly. This helped to assure Elizabeth that he was sincerely devoted to their marriage and that he possessed no desire to betray their covenant a second time.
John Proctor was unwilling to passively watch as the object of his lust, Abigail Williams, accused the woman he loved of witchcraft. Proctor knew that Abigail accused his wife only because she wanted to see her hang and meddle her own way into marrying John Proctor. John was appalled, and desperate to save the life of the woman, whom seven months prior he had so blatantly violated. Mr. Proctor knew his wife was not guilty, this is why he told his story of adultery, he hoped that the court would see the motive behind the beautiful Abigail’s claims. He compromised himself for his love and expressed his knowledge of the truth. John Proctor changed, he realized his Puritan characteristics and at the cost of his own life tried to save the life of the woman he had so deeply hurt.
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