John Proctor - a Tragic Hero in The Crucible

Categories: John Proctor

A tragic hero is a character whose imperfection or slip-up, at last, prompts their defeat. In Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, the community of Salem is drenched in an emergency because of the allegations of witchcraft. One of the charges is John Proctor, a solid and good farmer. John Proctor meets the meaning of a tragic hero because of the affair with Abigail and his pride, however, redemption teaches him a lesson at the end of the play.

The affair with Abigail is a major cause for John becoming a tragic hero.

Abigail wouldn't like to accept that the undertaking is over among her and John and attempts to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor by performing witchcraft with the other girls in the small town of Salem. When Parris finds them and the town starts to accuse the girls, the girls make an accusation that there were other girls with them. They do this to prove their innocence and to try to save their lives.

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John’s affair with Abigail caused Elizabeth to lose her trust in John, while John has been trying to gain the trust back for a couple of months now. John says, “I have not moved from there to there without I think to please you… I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies… “. This shows how John is trying his best to redeem himself for a sin he has committed. This also shows the beginning of John becoming a tragic hero.

John Proctors' significant defect was his pride.

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John's positive reputation is what prevented him from admitting that he cheated on Elizabeth with Abigail, which would have in all likelihood, ended the witch trials. Elizabeth requested that John goes and tells the court that Abigail is a liar, however, he won't. John said, "I know I cannot keep it. I say I will think about it! ". Regardless, when Elizabeth is taken by the court, John needs to pick between his pride and his significant other. He attempts to fix it by bringing Mary Warren into the court to admit to false things and lie to the court.

When John brings Abigail to lie, it backfires onto John and he needs to confess to adultery, holding his respect so as to protect Elizabeth. Eventually, he also is arrested after Elizabeth was questioned by Danforth. She denies his unfaithfulness trying to keep John with a good reputation after he is arrested for witchcraft. This demonstrates that John is attempting to do great, yet his downfalls continue coming, which is another quality that makes John Proctor the tragic hero of the play. As the play is coming to an end, John has no time to make a decision concerning his pride.

The court gives John a final proposal with which he can plead guilty and live or be hanged with the other people who didn't admit. After talking with Elizabeth, John says that he wants to live and admit to his confession. After he signs the paper, admitting to his confession, he rips up the paper because he found out that Danforth wants to hang the paper on the church doors. John says "… for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor…", he is talking about his honesty. This shows that John would rather die and pay the price for what he did, than ruin his reputation for the town of Salem.

Elizabeth doesn't attempt to stop him, realizing that he was expected to do this, sadly saying to Hale "He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him! ". Proctor protects his pride and keeps a good reputation for himself, he dies as a man with many downfalls but also a man who owned up to his confession. This is what made John Proctor become the tragic hero of The Crucible. Arthur Miller uses John Proctor as an example to show the readers that no matter what mistakes you do in life, there will always be a way to change and show everyone the better side. This is why John Proctor is known as the "Tragic Hero" of The Crucible.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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John Proctor - a Tragic Hero in The Crucible. (2020, Sep 18). Retrieved from

John Proctor - a Tragic Hero in The Crucible essay
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