John Proctor as Prominent Character in 'The Crucible'

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Table of Contents

  • Strong Internal Conflict of the Protagonist
  • Conclusion
  • Reference List

'The Crucible' is a 1953 play written by Arthur Miller. It is a historical and partly fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts from 1692 to 1693. John Proctor is a hardworking middle-aged farmer, father, and husband. He values honesty. Ironically, he is hiding a dirty secret of his own. John Proctor is one of the most important characters to discover in this essay about the play “The Crucible”. He is also a leading male role of the play.

Strong Internal Conflict of the Protagonist

John Proctor is faced with strong internal conflict concerning his reputation. This internal conflict changes his transformation as a dynamic character, which is a character whose traits or personality transform as the conflict starts to unfold. He is a middle-aged family man, hardworking, values his reputation, and a man of integrity. Proctor is also honest and upright, but he has a secret that could change his reputation forever. His desire for Abigail Williams led to their affair, and this led to Abigail's jealousy of his wife, Elizabeth, which sets the entire witch hysteria in motion. A motivation is when they warranted and jailed his wife Elizabeth. He doesn’t believe in witches and threatens people who don’t support him. He even rips the warrant Cheever brings him against Elizabeth.           '(ripping the warrant) Out with you! . . . Damn the Deputy Governor! Out of my house!'. This quote shows that Proctor has no respect for the court. He knows that his wife Elizabeth is innocent, but if the church finds her guilty, they will have Elizabeth hanged. This quote shows Proctors motivation for being against the court and essentially the church.

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John Proctor is the protagonist of the play. Once he comes into the play, the actual plot begins. Up to that point, the play’s exposition is introducing the town, some people that live in the town, and the big situation that will lead to the plot which is the accusations of witchcraft. Without John, the play would just be a retelling of an awful time in American history. His presence makes the risks of the play more precise, because John has a problem which is to free his wife and his friends from untrue accusations of witchcraft, but he is asked to let go of his dignity, honor, and his good name to do so. While we might understand with John, we also know that he’s an imperfect protagonist. His mistake of lust led him to commit the adultery that makes him exposed to Abigail’s manipulations. '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!'. This quote shows Proctor's qualities of morals, honor, and integrity. Proctor does not know how he can continue living without his good name. He doesn't know how he could live with the shame of signing himself to a lie within himself and his neighbors.

John Proctor is a weak man in the first act. He cannot criticize people because he is an example of a sinner. It would be very deceitful to talk about others while lacking morals. In addition, we see him beating his servant with violence even though she is a young girl. John Proctor also blames Elizabeth of being too cold with him. He always gets nervous when he talks to his wife. He talks furiously with Mary when she returns home after having gone to Salem: “I’ll whip you if you dare leave this house again”. He acts like a short-tempered man who gets angry fast. Despite what John Proctor did, he is not all bad. He refuses Abigail’s tricks and finally ends his relationship with her. He starts to show more attention to Elizabeth and regrets his sin. This demonstrates that John Proctor now wants to show to his wife how much he values her and that his affair with Abigail is just a big mistake. In this quote “I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven months she’s been gone, I have not moved to somewhere where I don’t think to please you”, we can see how much effort John is putting to pay off his sin. John wants to be forgiven and show her that he can be an amazing husband.


In conclusion, “The Crucible” has many important characters, but the most important one is John Proctor. Proctor later on in the play becomes the protagonist, so this makes him a main person who plays a major role. We learn about his downfalls, motivations, and reputation. Overall, John is a man who did some unforgivable actions, but he tries to redeem himself.

Reference List

  1. Miller, Arthur. 'The Crucible.' Penguin Books, 1976.
  2. Bloom, Harold, editor. 'Arthur Miller's The Crucible.' Infobase Publishing, 2010.
  3. McEwan, Barbara. 'The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts.' Hutchinson, 1979.
  4. Lichtenstein, Jesse. 'The Many Faces of John Proctor.' The Arthur Miller Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, 2008, pp. 139-150.
  5. Abbotson, Susan C. W. 'Student Companion to Arthur Miller.' Greenwood Press, 2000.
  6. Bigsby, Christopher. 'Arthur Miller: A Critical Study.' Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  7. Bloom, Harold, editor. 'Arthur Miller's The Crucible (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations).' Chelsea House Publishers, 2008.
  8. Corley, Liam. 'The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts by Arthur Miller.' The Explicator, vol. 73, no. 3, 2015, pp. 190-192.
  9. Nienhuis, James Owen. 'Arthur Miller's The Crucible: A Literary Analysis.' The Midwest Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 3, 1974, pp. 285-292.

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