Who is the Hero of "The Crucible"?

July 9, 2010
By bdallas SILVER, Franklin, Virginia
bdallas SILVER, Franklin, Virginia
8 articles 7 photos 8 comments

In The Crucible, there are many opposing points of view make the reader speculate about who, the book’s true hero is. In my opinion, I think John Proctor is the true hero of this epic story. John Proctor fought valiantly for his wife’s freedom, his own freedom, as well as for the freedom of many others of the condemned. In the end, however, Proctor let the want of what was left of his good name to be kept clean to be his downfall. Even in the face of death though, John Proctor showed courage and confessed to witchcraft, which was the rational thing to do. John Proctor is one of the story’s most dynamic characters, and this is the reason that I think he is the true hero.

In the very beginning of the play, we are led to believe that John Proctor is a sinner and a feared man among the townspeople of Salem. John Proctor was having some sort of affair with Abigail, which we find out is called lechery, and we find this out while the two of them are talking in Betty’s room. John Proctor denies any involvement with Abigail, but Abigail then says “I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now!” This makes us believe that John Proctor is cheating on his wife, Elizabeth, and that he is an evil man. On the contrary, John Proctor does many positive things, which outweigh the sins he has committed. Will Abigail use this information to try to blackmail John or his testimonies in the court later in the play?

In Act II of The Crucible, we find out that Abigail Williams has charged Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft. Is Abigail finally getting her revenge for John denying that he does not love her? Proctor is outraged when he hears this, and Elizabeth thinks that Abigail wishes to take her place once she is hanged, and John knows this to be true. Abigail Williams said that Elizabeth had sent out her spirit and made it stab a needle into her stomach. John Proctor believes that Abigail is trying to get revenge on his wife for throwing her out, and John Proctor swears that he will do whatever he can to prove her innocence. John Proctor says “I will fall like an ocean on that court! Fear nothing, Elizabeth.” From this we can infer that Proctor would do whatever possible to save his wife, even if it means he must confess about his crime of lechery. John wants to make sure that the court knows this, and to use it to say that Abigail is doing this for her own purposes. We can infer that John Proctor will do anything to make the outcome in favor of him.

In Act III of The Crucible, Proctor successfully gets Mary Warren, their housemaid, to testify in front of the court to prove that his wife is innocent. Mary has signed a deposition and tells the court that “It were pretense, sir.” Shortly afterwards in the court, we find out that Elizabeth had sent a claim to the court saying that she was pregnant. John Proctor is told that if his wife begins to show signs in a month, Elizabeth will be permitted to live for another year, but John Proctor wants to make sure that Elizabeth will be acquitted of all charges of witchcraft, and prove that the girls are lying. Proctor goes through all of the trouble of getting 91 other respectable landholding farmers to vouch that Elizabeth had no dealings with the Devil. Surely if someone tried as hard as John Proctor to prove that they or someone else were innocent and that so many people believe it, it must be true. John Proctor goes even further by getting Giles Corey to testify that Mr. Putnam prompted his daughter to cry witchery so he can buy their and when they are dead. From all of this we can infer that John Proctor is extremely perseverant and once he has his mind set on a task, he will follow through with it.

Near the end of Act III of The Crucible, Elizabeth still continues to try to defend John, even though he has already confessed to his crime of lechery. Soon after, Abigail claims that she is being “attacked” by Mary’s spirit, which assumed the guise of a bird. Mary becomes so confused and flustered, but she goes to Abigail’s side and said that she will no longer listen to the Devil’s man, referring to John Proctor. When Proctor is questioned about this, he says “I say-I say-God is dead!” Surely he has just condemned himself to hang now? He starts to act crazy, saying things that would probably make anyone believe that he was a witch. If Elizabeth Proctor confessed to him being a lecher, the outcome would have been very decidedly different. All Elizabeth wanted to do was to try to keep what was left of John’s good name pure, and it was too late for her to confess after he told her that he did so. Proctor has tried so hard to prove his wife’s innocence, as long as many others, but the sides had turned on him. He became a victim of the witchcraft hysteria, doomed to hang on the gallows. We all know that Proctor only meant well, but he had no clue that everything would turn out like it did. From this act we can infer that John Proctor can also be stubborn at times, but still continuing on the idea that he is extremely perseverant. It’s a shame that a man who tried so hard for the others to be condemned to hang because he wanted to keep his good name.

In Act IV of The Crucible, we learn of Giles Corey’s death by being pressed and of John Proctor’s hint that he should confess to witchcraft. This shows that John Proctor was capable of reasoning, so that he would have been able to live with his wife and their new baby after it was born. He understands that he should not die for something he didn’t do, which shows that he is a logical, albeit somewhat rash. When he is questioned, he still defends all of the others that were condemned, showing that he would try to make it seem that they were innocent, even if it made him appear guilty. John Proctor does not want to sell out his friends, for if he does, he knows that they will surely be condemned to hang. When Proctor is given the document to sign his name saying that he confesses, he refuses to do so because he doesn’t want to be used to prove the church’s point. He let his pride get the better of him, and he didn’t want to have his name tarnished any further. He tears the paper, and at this moment he realizes that there is still a shred of goodness left in him. He lets himself to be taken away to be hanged, and Elizabeth does not want to try and stop them, because she didn’t want to take away the good in him that he just found.

In conclusion, we can infer that John Proctor was the true hero of The Crucible.
Throughout the whole play we learned that he was capable of doing anything he set his mind to, and putting others before himself. John Proctor was a man capable of doing many things, including his pride and arrogance which have gotten the better of him in the end. He was an extremely perseverant man, and no matter what anyone else said, they could not stop him. He stood bravely in the face of death, knowing that he would go peacefully since he was finally able to forgive himself and found the good within him. This is the reason why John Proctor is the legitimate true hero of The Crucible.

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This article has 4 comments.

McNasty said...
on Aug. 20 2015 at 11:16 pm
John didn't confess to witchcraft. At the end of the play, he nearly subdues, having signed the paper admitting confession, but he tears it up and is hung. He valued his name over his life.

111tuk said...
on Jun. 12 2014 at 10:10 pm
actually proctor did NOT confess to witch craft!

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on Mar. 3 2013 at 8:48 am
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Jhenaro said...
on Sep. 8 2011 at 11:29 am

I think you left something out in the following excerpt: "...so he can buy their and when they are dead."

So he can buy what?


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