Arthur Miller creates sympathy for John Proctor by using an array of techniques, for instance symbolism. I will also look at how Miller affects the plot of the story to create sympathy for John Proctor. The Crucible was based on a real life tragedy, the witch-hunts that occurred in Salem. Miller wants us to feel sympathy for proctor because otherwise there would be no need for such a formidable ending.
There are several reasons why we might not feel sympathy for John Proctor. The fact that he lied to his family and children and had an affair with Abigail contributes to these reasons. His behaviour was seen as criminal because of the community he lived in. They were strict Christians, which meant he had broken two of the Ten Commandments, which is a sin.
We may feel sympathy for John Proctor because he is trying his best to make amends for his wrongs to Elizabeth. He has a deep sense of guilt about the affair and as Elizabeth says it is eating him away. Also the fact that his wife Elizabeth made it very hard for him after he confessed to her of the affair, I think makes us feel sympathy for John Proctor because he is trying everything to gain her trust again and her forgiveness.
Another reason we may feel sympathy for John Proctor is that he tries to help his fellow friends in trouble. Because he is doing the good and right thing we feel sorry for him, when it comes back to haunt him as Mary-Warren ends up accusing him of consorting with the devil. Proctor is looked up to, as he has a high standing in the community. So when this respectable man admits to adultery and lying to everyone he loses respect from his neighbours. His wife then lies to the court to protect his good name, not knowing he has confessed to his crime she condemns them all when his case loses because of her. This creates sympathy for John Proctor as he really has now given everything for the cause but his wife going against her nature has cost him. And now because of the one lie she has ever told to save him has condemned him.
One other reason that we may feel sympathy for John Proctor is that the court is blind to what is going on. Danforth is a stubborn old man who refuses to see what is right before his eyes. Parris feels threatened by John’s stature and standing with the people of the community. This creates sympathy because we know he shouldn’t be condemned and people with their own personal vendettas or their point blank ignorance.
Also the fact that John Proctor’s good name gets torn to shreds when he admits to adultery contributes to our growing sympathy for him. He does not want to lie after being convicted. But after speaking to Elizabeth decides to confess as he thinks himself unlike Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey who are so called “Saints”. But when he hears that his confession will be made public and shown to the town he withdraws his statement and explains that god has already seen his name on the paper and that they do not have to show it to the town. He tells them that “I have given you my soul, leave me my name.” But this is not enough so they hang John Proctor for consorting with the devil. This creates sympathy because he has been hanged on false charges. I feel this is the main reason why we will sympathy amongst other things. He has been hung when we know the claims to be false.
So In Conclusion, Arthur miller uses many different techniques to create sympathy for John Proctor, but in my opinion the main reason we feel sympathy for John Proctor is that we know he is a good man trying to right his wrong and with obstacles blocking him from doing so.