In puritan society in 1692, it was expected that a hero would be someone that helps, is honest and stands up for their cause, also a heroic person would be very religious as religion was a very large part of a puritan’s life. Many of Proctors actions in the play can be viewed as heroic, such as when he stands up to the court and Abigail or when he fights right until the end and tries to help all the other people wrongly accused of witchcraft.
The tragic part is that he dies trying to do these things. In 1938 an organisation called The house of un-american activities committee was created by the senator Joseph McCarthy. This committee was to stop communism, communists and communist sympathisers. Many people thought this was out of control. In the introductory explanation of the crucible book it says that ‘the committee became almost paranoid in its searching out of communist sympathisers.
‘ This shows that they weren’t just slightly worried they were border lining paranoia which makes you wonder if they were worrying about communism more than was really necessary and that it was being put across as a larger problem than it actually was. The people of middle 20th century America however had a right to be paranoid as any criticism of the government was, in the eyes of McCarthy an admission of communism.
A quote in the crucible book says ‘For example the committee often had in its possession lists of people at various meetings and yet it still wanted witnesses to name them. ‘ Arthur Miller viewed the public naming with the ones in Salem in 1692. Miller was very brave in writing this play as it could have led to him being imprisoned for a long time. This is why Miller set it in 1962 when the Salem witch trials were. This way he could show the audience the horrors of McCarthyism but tell officials it was a play on history.
In act 1 John Proctor is not viewed as a hero because of how he is quite vicious to Abigail for example when he says to her ‘ Do you look for a whippin’ this is him threatening her which nowadays if a grown man said that to a girl it would be deemed as unacceptable. In act 1 we hear glimpses of Proctors and Abigail’s affair which causes Proctor’s wife Elizabeth to throw Abigail out. This shows him as not a hero because most hero’s probably aren’t adulterous, but also in an odd way he is heroic because he puts a stop to the affair and tries to put things right.
In act 2 Proctor can be viewed as a hero because he is trying everything to save his wife, such as when Cheever and Herrick come to arrest her he grabs the warrant out of their hands and says ‘ out with you’ this shows his loyalty and belief in is wife even when everyone does not believe she is innocent. He also calms his wife down and sets himself out to go to the court and help her and everybody else, we know this because he says ‘ I will fall like an ocean on that court, fear nothing.