The Crucible : John Proctor
Task : Choose a play which the audience’s response to an important character changes significantly. Explain the reason for this change in response.
“The Crucible” is a thought provoking and morally challenging play by Arthur Miller. It is set in the 17th Century in Salem in America, and focuses on a close-knit, strictly puritan community. It is through the use of this setting, Miller is allowed to successfully explore the themes of paranoia and hysteria as the results of the lack of freedom in the puritanical lifestyle, which progresses to a series of witch trials and deaths of innocent civilians, which form the main themes of this play which are redemption and corruption. A historical parallel is created between the witch trials in Salem and 1960’s McCarthyism where various people of interest were accused of practising communism. One of the main characters, John Proctor who is presented as a tragic hero, displays a number of moral dilemmas to the audience; therefore throughout the play our opinion of him becomes significantly altered.
At the beginning of the play, we see glimpses of Proctor’s personality though dialogue with Abigail, a young girl whom we learn he has had an affair with, which helps us to form a first impression of him, which is initially negative. Proctor displays arrogance and appears to bathe in self-importance, and through the stage directions we learn that two female characters are in awe of Proctor, as we are told that Mercy Lewis is “strangely titillated” by his presence and Abigail is “wide eyed” at the sign of him. This description has connotations of infancy and child like mannerisms, which is symbolic as we learn that Proctor and Abigail engaged in an affair when he is many years her senior – an event which lies at the heart of this play. However, we learn Proctor is more than just physically attractive, but also appears as a frightening character, which provokes a hostile reaction from the audience. He...