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Evaluation of the Effects of Group Hysteria as Illustrated in Arthur Miller’s Play, The Crucible

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Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible was written to show what happens when people fall to mass hysteria, such as the case with witchcraft throughout the entire story. The play’s plot generally revolves around innocent people who are accused of something that they haven’t done, and are prosecuted because of it. People get their land taken away, and at the very worst get hanged or even crushed to death by giant stones, just like what happened to Giles Corey in the story. There are not many sweet and generous people throughout the story, as a matter of fact, I can only think of one on the top of my head, and that’s Rebecca Nurse. Rather, there are tons of people in the book who care more about their reputations than the people surrounding them. There is no exception for John Proctor. He is rightfully hanged at the end of the story for committing adultery with Abigail Williams.

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John Proctor is a terrible person for many reasons. He lies when people accuse him of his wrongdoings, even including his own wife, denies any connection he has between himself and Abigail Williams, is very mentally ill and tormented to say the least, and doesn’t care one bit about the people around him. Even though Proctor is a very miserable and weak minded human being, in the end, he is human, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have human emotions and feelings for others. Proctor has a secret longstanding relationship with Abigail Williams, which kind of qualifies as the town whore if you think about it. John Proctor committed adultery with Abigail, which if you did, you would get hanged for it. John continuously lied about his affair repeatedly to not only the court, but to his own wife, which pretty much makes him a Grade A scumbag. “My wife is innocent, except she know a whore when she see one.” (Miller 220). Proctor repeatedly admits that he believes keeping the affair from his wife and everyone else damaged God’s trust in him. If he thought that, why didn’t he just admit to the crime he committed back in Act I? It doesn’t really make much sense when you think about it.

Even though Proctor has many flaws and mistakes in him, he still cares for his family dearly. He is also a very hard and dedicated farmer, which is his main profession in the play. Proctor only strives to do right, but unfortunately, he did one of the most vile and nefarious crimes out there; cheating on his wife. And then he lied about it. Not a very good combination to put together…

One of Proctor’s flaws throughout the entire play is his inability to admit to his sins. Time and time again he had the chance to just fess up and tell the court what happened, and he completely blew that opportunity right out of the water. Proctor can also come off as very blunt when he says “I say- I say- God is dead!” (Miller 226). Proctor also views himself as a man who refuses to slander his own name, breaking into a mental breakdown towards the end of the play when he pleas not to have his false confession nailed to the church door, which he thought as “selling his soul away to the devil”. “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!” (Miller 240).

If you didn’t know already, John Proctor is the main protagonist of The Crucible, which means the story basically revolves around him and his events. Come to think of it, he barely does anything throughout the first two acts before playing a major role in Act III, where he admits to his affair with Abigail Williams. John Proctor does achieve one goal at the end of the story, and that is saving his good name.

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