John Proctor – a Tragic Hero in The Crucible
John Proctor is a character in The Crucible who can be described as a tragic hero. Firstly, John Proctor’s tragic flaw was his great amount of pride, that slowly tied a series of unfortunate events, eventually making Proctor succumb to his death. However, Proctor does die for a crime he did not commit. Another important part of being a tragic hero is that the character has a complete reversal of fortune brought by their own flaw: Proctor’s life turned completely upside down when Abigail accuses Elizabeth, who then was sent to jail and this all started because John had committed adultery. At the end of every tragic play, the audience must feel pity for the deceased hero- also known as catharsis, which means cleansing of emotions.
This is also very clearly evident in the play right at the end when Proctor is hung and the audience is left in sorrow. John Proctor is a classic tragic hero because he contains most of the elements of a tragic hero such as hamartia, peripeteia, catharsis, and despite not being born into nobility, he possesses many noble characteristics. In The Crucible, John Proctor’s tragic flaw was his overwhelming hubristic character that made a pathway for his death. Pride plays an interesting role in the life of John Proctor in The Crucible. At the end of the play when Proctor is asked to sign the piece of paper with his name, confessing that he helped the devil, Proctor refused “Because it (was his) name!”. This short exclamative suggests to the reader just how much of value his name is to him. Proctor’s pride in himself causes him to think that he would rather die then confess and ruin his reputation. He wages an internal, war between his conscience and pride.
During the trials, Proctor refused to testify against Abigail in order to prevent his name from being blackened. He cares much for his name and in the society he lived in at the time he was highly respected and was looked up to by others in his town. He also confessed that he “cannot have another (name) In (his) life!”, as he is an adulterer and would lose his high status. Proctor lived in a Puritan society where lechery would have been unacceptable, however Proctor attempted very hard to maintain his good name and reputation by keeping it between himself and Abigail, as if this sin was revealed to the society Proctor would lose all his respect good name and reputation and would be punished severely, likely death.
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