In the play The Crucible many of the characters learn things about themselves as well as others. Discuss the insight gained by the characters of Elizabeth Proctor, Reverend Hale, and John Proctor. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, Elizabeth Procter, learns about the character and morality of other people, her own actions of the people around them, and most importantly how to admit and deal with her own mistakes.
Reverend Hale’s insight into himself reveals his new perspective on people in general, this leads him to realize that his reasons and purpose for hunting the witches could have been correct, but his one mindedness in doing so was a great weakness to him. The protagonist John Procter goes through many challenges in order to achieve an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of himself and the people around him. He realizes that he lacks in his ability to admit to his own mistakes, and when he finally does, it is to late. Elizabeth Proctor is reserved, slow to complain, and dutiful women.
Even so, she is extremely pained by the fact that her husband was having an affair with their “strikingly beautiful” young servant Abigail. Throughout the play, her dialogue is vague in order to show her feelings towards her husband. It hints at the fact if whether of not she has actually forgiven her husband, or if she only stay with him because that is what society demanded of her during the time of the play. Despite her perturbation, Elizabeth still plays the role of her husband’s supporter. Throughout the play, as Procter is caught between difficult choices, Elizabeth helps him choose what is best for him.
For example, in Act four when Procter is stuck between the choice to falsely confess to the sin of witchcraft or to be hung, Elizabeth tells him to choose the later, though she does not want him to die, she also does not want him to give in to the demands of the unjust trial in which he is a part of. After her husband has decided to hang from the gallows instead of signing a false confession, she remains in the jail. When Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale urge her to go and attempt to save her husband, she states, “He have his goodness now.
God forbid I take it from him! ” (Act IV)Elizabeth admits that John was righteous to confess his sin of adultery, she considers herself impure for not showing mercy, and does not want to take away from his glory. Reverend Hale was first introduced in Act one when when Reverend Parris summons him to examine his daughter, Betty. In the early parts of the play, Hale is the main person behind the witch trials, probing for numerous confessions and encouraging people to testify, even if they had not committed the sin of witchcraft. Have no fear now–we shall find him out if he has come among us, and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face! ” (Act I)
As the play continues, however, he experiences a transformation due to the insight he has when listening to John Proctor and Mary Warren. After this, he becomes convinced that they are telling the truth and that Abigail is lying, making the whole witch trials a sham. This is shown when he speaks to Elizabeth about the trials, “Life, woman, life is God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. (Act IV)
Hale states that man does not have the right to punish another man by death, he is rejects the entire proceedings of the trial because he now realizes that only God can truly judge someone. John Procter, the protagonist of the play, is seen as a tragic hero because of the qualities that he posses, he is honest, upright, and blunt-spoken, but his flaw was the lust that he held for Abigail Williams, Elizabeth’s maid. Because of this lust, Procter commits the sin of adultery that leads to the start of the witch trials.
Because of his sin, Procter is unable to be trusted by his wife as seen in Act I, “Spare me! I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house! ” as the play progresses however, John Procter realizes that because he has not admitted to his sin of adultery with Abigail, innocent people will have their lives lost. In order to try and correct this, he attempts to expose Abigail during the testimony with Mary Warren, but when this fails he comes out with the truth of his sin.
However, it is too late and he is convicted of participating in witchcraft as well. At the end of the play, Procter is asked to confess in order to be pardoned, and he does so, but he refuses to sign the confession and says, “I have three children–how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends? “(Act IV). By signing the confession, John is signing his legacy away, so his children’s names will also be ruined. Again, John is choosing to die instead of devastating someone else’s life.
John Proctor becomes a man who can dishonor his name in order to save another’s life, but not his own. This also proves his role as a tragic hero, because of his death at the end of the play. To conclude, in Miller’s The Crucible, each character goes through a change or transformation that leads to the insight that leads them to learn more about themselves and the people around them. The character that goes through the most significant change in the play was John Procter.
His insight leads him to realize his mistake of trying to hide his adultery from society in order to save his public face. By trying to hide it, however, he puts the life of his wife, and many other people at risk. By finally admitting to his sin, Procter though is unable to make any difference, so instead he decides to not sign off on a false confession and be hung. Procter’s change embodies the definition of what a tragic hero is, and although he dies at the end of the play, he does not succumb to the unjust society of the witch trials.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 January 2017
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