In a new puritan town of Salem-1692, a group of girls are caught dancing in darkness, accused of witchcraft and treachery they sculpt and mislead the town to anarchy in attempt to escape the consequences. The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller, written during the McCarthy era of 1950, it parallels the time in which the play was set and in which it was written. John Proctor, it’s main but flawed character adds to the play dramatic element and it’s tragic outline, the question of why Miller picked to centre his play upon Proctor rather Corey or Nurse, who endure the similar fate, is complex and layered.
The destined reality of the play is the ending at when the characters of Proctor, Corey and Nurse are hanged with the charge of consorting with the devil. The Crucible deals with many struggles faced by the common men and women in the 1950’s manly the “witch trials” executed by Senator Joseph McCarthy to remove any communist spies and the remain true to the “American Dream”. The inspiration of the play could be the apparent accusation of Miller during those trials and it’s parallels to Proctor.
Miller picked Proctor to add Tragedy and drama to the play, his mysterious and unpredictable manner keeps the audiences involved and guessing. Nurse was another option, but she, however, is predictable and we expect her to die for her god and that wouldn’t add to the drama and tragedy when the lever is pulled. Corey, another option available to Miller but the fiery old law suite would rather die then betray his morals and goes out with the words “more weight” (a form of punishment, slowly constrict breathing by placing weights upon the chest). Proctor is the plays tragic hero.
Honest, prideful and flawed. Proctor is a munificent man, but with one flaw. His lust for Abigail Williams, (who he beds in the proper place, with his animals), this creates jealousy in Abigail towards Proctors wife Elizabeth. Proctor is aware that he can stop this uncontrollable hysteria in the town if he confesses to the courts, however this would mean for him to sacrifice his pride and sense of name, and therefore is his Hamartia in a sense. This Greek interpretation of the tragic hero’s fatal flaw, mentioned by Aristotle in his poetics it’s basically another thesaurus for character flaw.
This is the reason that Miller picked Proctor for his main character as his flaw contradicting his beliefs and this adds to the drama and tragedy of the play Miller’s Proctor is not the real Proctor, in reality he was a lonely tavern owner- Miller would have been forced to change his visage to allow him to fit into his role as a convincing tragic hero. Reasons for this would have been that in the 17th century a tavern owner would not have been seen as a “godly” affair and therefore by changing him into a man of the earth would make the fall even more dramatic and tragic.
Miller changed many other things from reality , such as Abigail’s age who was only 14 and Proctor 40+ making the affair very unlikely. Proctor’s faults, his affair and his pride are his ultimate downfall. Although unwilling to repeat the affair when prompted by Abigail in town, ” You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet! ” Abigail is still besotted by him and when turned down she identifies what she assumes is the obstacle that’s preventing Proctor from her- his wife, Elizabeth.
This create ample amounts of tension within the audience as they wonder when Proctor is going to confess the affair ( which occurs in Elision before the play begins). Also the tension created between Proctor and Elizabeth, who knows about that affair and still hasn’t forgiven him. All these events add to the play drama and tragedy as they create tension. Beginning Act3, in Proctor’s house, he walks in and tastes the pot- not quite right. Elizabeth is singing delightfully to their children upstairs.
The tension is clear as they sit down for dinner. Proctor tell Elizabeth that he means to please her buy buying more land and is trying to encourage a response as he still feels guilty about the affair. The air is suffocated as they try to communicate but it’s apparent that neither have forgotten the affair. Proctor the emphasis that Elizabeth’s “Justice would freeze beer”, Beer being something that Proctor would find enjoyable, and Elizabeth is forgetful to his pleasures- food, flowers and cider. Maybe she thinks he has had all his fun.
Proctor’s positives are evident in his reaction to other characters in the play, one way he had shown this was when at court with Corey and Nurse, he was told “Elizabeth is safe, take your leave”-Proctor answers “I cannot leave my friends”. He has self confidence and beliefs and these portray Proctor as a likable character and therefore adding to the drama and tragedy when he ultimately dies. Proctor’s effects are seen not just in the humble people of Salem but in his wife. In the final act, Elizabeth is asked to convince Proctor to sign his name rather then to die for his enormous pride.
Elizabeth when shown her husband admits to him that she “kept a cold house” and the essential turnaround in her deepens the meaning and choices of Proctor’s life. At this point Elizabeth has forgiven Proctor and now the love between them is reconsolidated. Elizabeth in effect has let down her “icy shield”. Judge Hathorne, a stern minister of god and court wants deeply for Proctor to sign his name in trust that others may follow suite of such a weighty name. He is a stern man with his strict principles and when he sees Elizabeth cry he says “… an ocean of salt tears could not break my intentions”.
This could and may be a metaphor for Pandora’s Box. Pandora a metaphor for Elizabeth and the box is a metaphor for Proctor. In lore it is believed that Pandora cried an ocean of acid tears when she lost her most beloved treasure- the box, in the same manner as does Elizabeth as she is about to lose the love of her life-Proctor. This furthermore adds to Elizabeth’s and Proctor’s relationship and therefore adding to the plays drama and tragedy. Another character that is profoundly affected by Proctor is Hale, who at the beginning of the play is “weighted with authority” and follows god as law.
His perpetia is when Proctor, Corey and Nurse are sentenced to hang, he then realises the fault in law and vows to rescue them His return in Act 4, is timely but to no avail. He convinces Elizabeth to herd Proctor to the pen but she is unable to overcome his pride. Abigail’s love interest is the driving force behind the lies, accusations and hysteria, but however when Proctor is accused by Mary Warren she has lost the thing she desired created the mayhem for. Abigail in her own right is a strong women and after the trails disappears, later found as a prostitute in a burlesque bar.
Antithesis of how she’s seen in the start of the play where she has no mark against her name. Miller himself is identical to Proctor in many ways, he and Proctor have beliefs that are seen as against god’s law, although in Miller’s time the law was the American Dream. In 1950’s America Senator Joseph McCarthy (a parallel to Judge Hawthorne) led a communist hunt is which Miller was questioned and asked to name names of communists he allegedly met 20-25 years ago. Proctor, although keeping evidence from the court stands behind his beliefs and tries to free his wife.
There are other identical aspects from 1950 to 1690, such as the understanding that if you weren’t with God then by default you were with the Devil. In America the law was that if you didn’t support the American cause in full then also by default you were a communist. Miller has used many other clever devices to link the to eras together, unfortunately landing him in mire trouble with the American Government. In the final Act a signature is required, Proctor’s life shall spared but his name shall not.
His feelings are made clear when he tears the paper and says ” Its my name, because I cannot have another in my life” and with this he takes his final stand against Hawthorne’s moral but unjustified reasoning. The plays final dramatic element is Proctor’s death. The hanging happens in elision, though we know when the drop occurs as there is a drum roll that gradually heightens (stage direction). The only characters left on stage are Hale and Elizabeth, they are critical as the provide us with two conflicting views, Elizabeth’s ” he have his goodness know”.
It accords to Proctors own views. Hale’s ” What profits him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms declare him truth? ” The two conflicting views have their validity. Miller here is not making it easy for the audience to decide which prospective is right. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Miller section.