Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible,"" was first published in 1953 during the politically tumultuous time of McCarthyist America. By depicting how the Salem theocracy spiraled out of control in 1692, Miller draws a parallel between the mass hysteria present in the witch trials of the period and the Red Scare during the Cold War. The play's central character and tragic hero is John Proctor. Through Proctor, Miller highlights how people speaking out against mass hysteria and in a society "gripped between two diametrically opposed absolutes," are "always marked for calamity." Although Proctor is an immensely proud man, audiences align and view him as the ultimate voice of reason in the repressed Salem community. By the end of the play, despite losing his life and public integrity, Proctor is a changed man who is no longer tormented by his lecherous sins.
Notes on Miller's Character, John Proctor.
1. In the opening of the play, Proctor is represented in several ways. .
2. Upon his entrance, Proctor is characterized as a respected, forthright and influential figure in the community. .
He is "powerful of body, even tempered, and not easily led.".
3. Proctor openly despises the way Reverend Parris runs the Church and doesn't "like the smell of this authority.".
4. Proctor's strong belief in his freedom of speech highlights his awareness of his esteemed role within the community. .
Although he is told by Rebecca Nurse, a lady who Proctor greatly respects, that he "cannot break charity with [his] minister," .
he still insists that he "may speak [his] heart." His social status and dominance are evident in the confident way he readily .
challenges Reverend Parris' superficial beliefs and corrupt conduct, even in a time and society where such outspoken .
reason could lead to dire consequences.
5. When Miller introduces Proctor, he also foregrounds Proctor's internal conflict as a result of his affair with Abigail Williams.