“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller is set in 1692 at the time of the Salem witch trials. The play probes into the workings of the repressed society to discover it is run with bigotry and tyranny. Although the town is a shambles, there shines the protagonist, John Proctor, who stands for purity and integrity. As the town crumbles, Proctor finds himself up against a formidable force. The play opens with a group of girls being caught whilst sporting in the forest. Suspicious eyes turn towards the girls and they attempt to shift the blame.
After an affair with the protagonist John Proctor, Abigail tries to place an incantation on his wife Elizabeth. During Abigail’s attempts to shift the blame she draws a significant portion of the innocent population into her twisted games. Due to the accusations the ones caught in this, shambles have no option but to give up their souls and name the devils accomplices. However, Proctor stands against this to save the people he loves dearly. During the first act when the reader is first introduced to the protagonist, John Proctor, it is clear that he is at odds with those around him.
Salem is a well masked town as on the surface it appears as the usual law abiding and religious citizens but underneath this disguise is a well hidden truth of a decaying society that Proctor greatly detests. We are first made aware of this as word of the group of girls spreads and Proctor is inside Reverend Parris’ house to converse on the matter. Also present is Thomas Putnam; together Parris and Putnam try to twist this gossip to their advantage but Proctor is against them: “you cannot command Mr Parris.
We vote by name in this society, not by acreage. This clearly shows Proctor’s first opposition against Putnam as Putnam is trying to give both Proctor and Parris advice on how to handle the situation at hand. This also shows that Proctor is standing his ground and is basically telling Putnam to keep his advice resulting in him become at odds with Putnam. This may be reinforced as Parris has the idea that some of the citizens are trying to remove him as head of the church. Proctor strongly stands with the faction who does wish to overthrow Parris: “I like not the smell of this authority. ”
This conveys the fact that Proctor opposes who is in charge; it also strengthens the opposition between himself and Parris. It also suggests that Proctor is against the church which in itself would be a hanging offense as Salem is a highly religious town. Furthermore this hints at the fact Proctor will not submit to the corruption that has overcome the authorities. Towards the end of the first act Proctor has a brief confrontation with his main opposition, Abigail Williams. To Proctor Abigail can be seen as a twisted liar and a whore who represents corruption to the tee.
This can be shown as Proctor has a confrontation with Abigail on his way home to his family. She tries to lure Proctor back into the affair they once had: “I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I came near! Or did I dream that? It’s she put me out, you cannot pretend it were you. I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you love me now. ”
This demonstrates that Abigail is tempting him in detail about a previous moment with lust but Proctor resists, thus showing he places himself as the superior figure for integrity and showing he has learned from his mistakes: Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut of my hand before I’ll eve reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby. ” This reinforces Proctor’s status as being a strong willed character standing up for what he believes is the right thing to do despite the adultery he committed before. This also shows the emotion Proctor faces while confronting Abigail. Furthermore, Proctor has convinced himself that nothing happened between the two of them and suggests Abigail does the same as it will never happen in the future.
In the second act it is quickly brought to the reader’s attention that Elizabeth Proctor has been caught up in the accusations of witchcraft and Proctor sets his mind on getting her cleared of charges: “I will fall like an ocean on that court! Fear nothing, Elizabeth. ” This simile demonstrates Proctor loves his wife dearly and stands by her no matter the consequence. It also shows that Proctor intends on going to the court and setting things straight. Later in the act Proctor goes to court with a plan to confront the authorities to save his wife.
He asks Mary Warren to support his cause as she has become fed up with following Abigail: “we will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court what you know. ” This conveys that Proctor has convinced Mary Warren to tell the court about the lies and the games the group of girls have done to help save his wife from death. This also shows he is willing to sacrifice himself or at least his purity in order to save his wife. In Act three the reader sees Proctor go to the court with Mary Warren to oversee his wife’s release.
However, his attempt to do this falls short of its goal as Mary Warren suddenly changes her mind and resorts back to the girls routine: ” Oh Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s god’s work to do. ” This demonstrates that Proctor is furious with Mary for defying him so close to his goal. This also shows how corrupt Mary Warren has become by betraying an honest mans trust to assist him in saving not only his wife but possibly the entire town from widespread corruption and hatred.
As a result of this Proctor decides to admit his sins of adultery to try and show the court exactly what Abigail Williams is up to: “I have known her sir. I have known her. ” This shows that Proctor has made a desperate attempt in front of the court, openly admiting to his sins of adultery with Abigail to save Elizabeth. The court then invites Elizabeth into the room to prove that she was aware of this but unfortunately she denies it to save her husband, resulting in Proctor being arrested.
In the final act, act four, Proctor initially decides to confess to save his life and be there for his family but as a result he would have to live in shame and the guilt from becoming corrupt himself and losing his integrity. He then decides to sign the confession to be with his family: “I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint, It is a fraud. I am not that man. My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothing’s spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before. ”
This conveys that Proctor has considered lying and has begun to doubt his own honesty. He suddenly has a change of heart and decides to rip up the confession as he cannot stand lying to save his own life but is willing to sacrifice it to save others: “for now I do think I see a shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs. ” This proves that Proctor has decided to do the right thing and go to the rope. He decides to do this as he is able to keep his name and has not allowed anyone to push him around.
It also shows he has kept his integrity intact, which was at odds with what the judges wanted as they knew they were in the wrong but still went along with it to not give them or the church a bad name. In conclusion, Proctor was at odds with numerous foes but stood his ground and held on to his integrity at the same time. Although he did sacrifice himself to prove Abigail wrong, he saved his family and others from being hung along with saving his name from being blackened and pinned on the church. He stood up for what he believed in: purity and integrity. The rest of the population of Salem now has a figure to look up to for the right thing.