In the play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, trouble is high in Salem. Young girls are responsible for the hangings of too many innocent lives; they claim that they have seen them (the innocent citizens of Salem) with the Devil. If the citizens admit to signing with the Devil, their lives will be spared. If they deny these accusations however, they are to be hung. John Proctor, a good, honest man. He is truly the tragic figure of this play, because he possesses every element of tragedy. John Proctor was a respectable land owner who had a very high social standing in his community.
He had a few fatal flaws, however. Proctor did not attend church routinely; because of this the court looks down on him. On the inside, John is indeed a good man, yet he has a guilty conscience that he will carry with him until the day he dies. He is a truly honest man, however, and will die for his beliefs. In the prologue to the play, we learned that John Proctor has had sexual affairs with Abigail Williams. This is John’s downfall. He has committed a sin, and hasn’t admitted it to the church or the court. His wife, Elizabeth, is aware of his sin, and discharged Abby from her duties servicing them.
Abby is the main “prophecy” in this play that sees people with the Devil. She wants to be John’s wife, but Elizabeth impeded this, so she said she saw Goody Proctor (Elizabeth) with the Devil and she signed his book. This is where John’s life takes a dramatic turn. It was late one night and there was a knock at the door. When John answered it, the court officials said that they had a warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest for being associated with the Devil. John starts to make a scene and rebel, but Elizabeth says she will go without trouble.
They found a poppet in her house, with a needle stuck in the stomach. Abby had mysteriously been stabbed in her stomach earlier. That is when she accused Elizabeth of practicing witchcraft. Mary Warren, their servant, says that the doll is hers and she stuck the needle there for safe keeping. She also said Abby saw her make it. However, Elizabeth still goes down for it. After Elizabeth has left, Mary admits to John that she and the girls have been lying about everything; they never saw the Devil or anyone with the Devil.
He demands that she goes to court with him tomorrow, and after much hesitation, she agrees. That day, Mary tells the judge Danfourth what she and the other girls have been doing. He is starting to believe her and calls the other girls in for questioning. When they deny it, is like their word against hers, and the court sides with Abby and the other girls, because they start pretending to see a yellow bird that they call Mary, and they say she is sending her spirit out to harm them. John puts an end to this by grabbing Abby by the hair and accusing her of harlotry.
The judge asks her, and she denies his allegation. They bring in Goody Proctor to testify (she doesn’t know that John has admitted the truth), and all she can say is in her husbands defense; “He is a good man now,” and only “She dissatisfies my husband and I. ” Eventually Mary turns on John, begins pretending with Abby again, and she accuses John of coming to her at night in her sleep and he wants her name in the Devil’s book. Therefore, John is tried, and says that he did have contact with the Devil, only to save his life (His wife is found out to be pregnant).
When they say he has to sign his name to a piece of paper admitting to this crime, he reluctantly signs. Then, he ends up ripping it up because he claims they have already stripped him of everything else, why must they ruin his name also? Because he doesn’t sign it, they consider him as denying it, and he is sentenced to hang in the morning. He talks to Elizabeth for the first time in months, and she tells him to do what he feels is right in his heart. He knows the truth, and he knows he had no pacts with Devil, so he refused to admit to and sign his name to a document that he committed a crime that he truly hadn’t.
John hangs that day, and he dies singing church songs; he dies praising the God that he always had, yet he dies for allegedly having committed himself to the Devil. He now has a better understanding of his life, and also, he has relieved his guilty conscious and he finally has his goodness. This act made his wife know that he was a good person, and he would do anything to protect his family, name, pride, and respect. He is finally enlightened and is connected to God again. John Proctor is a tragic hero in every aspect.
He was once at the top of his community and was very highly respected. He also has fatal flaws (nobody’s perfect), which eventually eats away at him until his death. Because of his downfall of committing a sin, a series of very dramatic, tragic events begin to happen. He dies defending himself and telling the truth, but even though it shouldn’t have happened that way, he has a new grasp on his life and what he was worth. He also freed himself of a guilty conscious that would have taken him to his grave on his own.