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Respect Through the Eyes of John Proctor

By , Bayonne, NJ
Everyone has relationships. Whether it’s with a friend, a family member or even with a boyfriend or girlfriend, they will always surround us. However, it isn’t always the easiest to maintain them. People constantly get in fights, have arguments, and disagree on specific topics for instance. It’s easy to break a relationship and tear it apart, but it takes work to maintain a positive one. There is a key element that can keep a relationship in the black: respect. While respect is often sought, it is not often fund, which leads to conflict in relationships. This is seen in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Character John Proctor develops relationships with quite a number of people, and the amount of mutual respect plays into how they interact.

John Proctor is always socially active in Miller’s Salem, but he is not always well received. There are reasons for praising Proctor. The man is holy, attends church, and is very hard working and determined. However, he did in fact cheat on his wife and that is one of the worst sins someone can commit. But the man commands respect nonetheless; all the work he puts into every day and the heart this man has outweighs any other, which others can sense. If you look at Deputy Governor Danforth for instance, a mere conversation with Proctor is all it takes for Danforth to respect him. While he and Proctor meet to discuss the accusations made against Proctor’s wife and his friends, the sense of respect can be sensed.

DANFORTH. Now, what deposition do you have for us, Mr. Proctor? And I beg you be clear, open as the sky, and honest.
PROCTOR. I am no lawyer, so I’ll-
DANFORTH. The pure in heart need no lawyers. Proceed as you will. (Miller 939)
When Danforth refers to Proctor as “pure in heart,” it shows how he respects his word. This allows the two to in fact grow stronger and have their bond become more solid. Both Proctor and Danforth grow as individuals from this encounter, and the friendship starts to form.

A reason these two men click so well, comes from Danforth’s encounters with other civilians. As a Deputy Governor, Danforth has seen a lot in his time, with many cases and sentences resolving right before his eyes. This is one of the factors of respecting Proctor’s word and taking every detail into consideration. “I judge nothing. I tell you straight, Mister—I have seen marvels in this court. I have seen people choked before my eyes by spirits; I have seen them stuck by pins and slashed by daggers” (938). Referring back to Proctor entering the scene In The Crucible, it can be seen respect plays a key role in strengthening or breaking relationships through the ways in which John Proctor interacts and communicates with others.

— ready to state his case to Danforth and the others, the accusation is made that Mr. Proctor does not attend church on a regular basis. Kind Reverend Hale states that Danforth should not judge Proctor based on accusation made against him. Since Danforth is very compassionate, he does not. Being on the job for as long as Danforth has, he has seen so much chaos unfold and deals with constant predicaments at his job. This contributes to his understanding of Proctor. Proctor in return gives much deserved reverence, which Danforth gives in return as well, and mutual respect is formed. But unlike Proctor, Giles Corey was not respected by Danforth. After the outburst Corey had during the trial of his wife, he was restrained and brought into the vestry room. Danforth follows in and the two begin to finally speak face to face.
DANFORTH. And how do you imagine helping her cause with such contemptuous riot? Now be gone. Your old age alone keeps you out of jail for this.


GILES. They be telling lies about my wife sir, I—
DANFORTH. Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside?
GILES. Your Excellency, we mean no disrespect for—


DANFORTH. Disrespect indeed! It is disruption, Mister. This is the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know it? (935)
Giles tried to state his case, but he did it in a very rudely. Danforth tells Giles “Disrespect indeed! It is disruption, Mister.” If he tried to make a reasonable accusation in a considerate manner like Proctor, Danforth might have been more understanding for what he had to say.

While Danforth and Proctor pay each other immense veneration, Reverend Parris does not respect either of the two men. Reverend Parris is the priest who believes all commoners will be punished by god and sent to hell for their sins, and that people are all inhumane beings and do not carry out the will of god. Parris’s lack of respect for others leads him to destroy many relationships including the one he cannot have with Proctor. Miller writes that Parris constantly objects to Proctor speaking; which is showing Proctor a complete lack of respect. Parris claims that Proctor has “come to overthrow this court” and that this was “A clear attack on the court” (939). This suggests his own ignorance, which leads to their mutual disrespect, can break a relationship. Saying these things is clearly disrespecting Proctor, and if you don’t give one man respect, do not expect to get it in return.

Parris and Proctor first met when Proctor comes to state his case in defense of his wife. Without saying a word to Parris, the Reverend intervenes on Proctor’s introduction and tells Deputy Governor Danforth, “Beware this man, Your Excellency. This man is mischief” (936). Proctor did not speak one word to this man, and Parris already is striking verbally. A total lack of respect is shown on Parris’ part. The relationship between the gentlemen immediately begins to break, even though it has not yet been formed. This narrows the chance of Proctor and Parris ever having a strong bond. These two men would have a much different relationship if respect had been shown in this moment of time.

It is seen that the relationships Proctor has with Danforth and his relationship with Parris are polar opposites. The element of respect is seen to be a key in the two affiliations. Danforth has a positive relationship and shares a mutual respect with Proctor, while Parris and Proctor’s relationship is extremely negative and they both disrespect each other. The interactions that Proctor have with these authority figures form the relationship, and the respect keeps the junction strong. Just as glue keeps together two pieces of material, which would cease to exist if the glue was non-existent, respect keeps people together connects them.

Interaction plays a role in forming a relationship, but the true key is respect. Paying obeisance to a person goes a long way, and helps link two people together. In The Crucible, it can be seen respect plays a key role in strengthening or breaking relationships through the ways in which John Proctor interacts and communicates with others. The amount of respect Proctor gives to Danforth is the same he gets in return from Danforth, and that builds the bond. Being that Parris did not show any respect towards Proctor, he did not get any in return. Respect is a very important thing that individuals should always pay their counterparts. It will help unify all people on the Earth and creates better people. The people can use respect to make matters less frustrating and help restore peace, and create an overall better society



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