“The Crucible” is an extraordinary play in the way that it was written in the 1950″s, yet it was based on life in the 1690″s. Miller wrote the play in the 1950″s, a time when the McCarthy witch trials were taking place in Michigan, and set “The Crucible ” in the 1690″s, a time when the Salem witch trials were happening.
John Proctor essay.
He used the earlier, similar situation to comment on modern day life in his time and to pass judgement on the events that were happening when he wrote “The crucible”.Order now
One of the pivotal, most important characters, and the character that Miller uses to get his message across with is John Proctor. He is a hard working farmer, and a loving family man. He is down to earth, blunt, honest and outgoing. He is a man that is never afraid to speak his mind.
In the 1996 film version of “The Crucible”, John Proctor is a rugged, tanned, muscly good looking man, and In Act One we learn how his looks curse him and he gives in to lustful temptations from Abigail, a local teenager, and has a secret affair with her. This storyline showed him to be somewhat weak under temptation, but we know that he feels a terrible sense of guilt and shame concerning the affair that in the end, holds John back from doing the right thing, and this guilt and shame also shows a sensitive, warm hearted, considerate side to John.
The contexts of the two places, Salem in the 1690″s and Michigan in the 1950″s are very different. Salem then, was a strong theocracy, a very religious village where people lived their day to day lives by God, and everyone in Salem was a God fearing person. This is partly why if anything out of the ordinary, like somebody being referred to as a witch, no one knew what to make of it all, and therefore believed the stories and spread them whether they were true or not.
The fact that Salem was a very self contained, close knit community meant that everybody knew eachother, and the stories spread rapidly. This is because the community had only been established for around 40 years, and people didn”t know whether they could trust one another, therefore, the stories spread like wildfire, getting more and more dangerously out of control as they did so.
The first scene in which we see John Proctor is when he has a heated argument with Abigail. They once had an affair, but he strongly rejects her advances now, and this shows a very wilful side to him. We know that he is desperate and so determined to stay faithful to his wife and children.
In Act two we see John and Elizabeth together, and how they interact with oneanother. They are quite cold, and distant with one another, they are both so desperate to please eachother that they act falsely in eachothers presence, or they aren”t themselves when around eachother.
“I mean to please you Elizabeth” “It is hard to say”
This shows he is so desperate to please her that he would lie behind her back to her so as she wouldn”t know what has been going on behind her back, but when she says ” I know it John” the stage direction says ” it is hard to say”, and we know from this that she finds it hard to believe him, and doesn”t trust him fully, but we know that she wants to be able to trust him.
He lies to her to try and conceal his behaviour. We know this is an act to try and make his relationship with Elizabeth right again, as he wants her to believe that he hasn”t been going into Salem and that nothing suspicious has happened.
” I have hardly stepped off this farm this seven month”
We know this is a lie as we see him in an earlier scene in Salem with Abigail.
“He is not quite pleased. He reaches into a cupboard, takes a pinch of salt and drops it into the pot”
This is a very significant action to consider when thinking about the sort of relationship John has with Elizabeth. It is very strained, and the lies and suspicion are covering up and slowly destroying all the love that is there between them. At the moment he would rather add the salt to her stew that tell her it is not quite right. It shows that John would do anything for Elizabeth and really loves her. He wants her to trust him again, but can”t see that she is not going to be able to if he lies to her, and because she feels there is no trust between them, she comes across as cold and unloving, whereas the reason she is behaving like this is because she loves him so much.
However he is doing what he feels right by lying to her, as he feels it will gain her trust and love if he tells her what she wants to hear and doesn”t argue with her. We know he is not a malicious liar, and he believes that this is the only thing he can do to rectify the relationship.He feels that if he tells her the truth, she won”t understand him properly, and this all shows that there is a lot of mis judgement and not a lot of communication between them.
Also, Elizabeth still hasn”t properly forgiven John for committing adultery, and so doesn”t know how she should act around him. She seems cold towards him, and suspicious of him.
“It”s winter in here yet”
This is a metaphor for how John sees his relationship; he is saying she is cold. He wants to make amends with her, but doesn”t know how.
“On Sunday, let you come with me and we”ll walk the farm together”
This shows he tries to make amends with her by making loving gestures towards her like this.
Elizabeth loves him, but doesn”t know how to trust him again. She believes he still lusts for Abigail, and her suspicions seem to be confirmed when he seems reluctant to say that Abby told him there was no witchcraft involved. However John is simply thinking that he will look like a liar, and this shows yet more miscommunication between the couple.
“I am only wondering how I may prove what she told me”
This situation illustrates the point that Miller is trying to make well; that guilt and shame can sometimes stop a person from doing the right thing. In this case, the guilt and shame of John Proctor over his affair with Abigail holds him back from telling everybody about what really happened and what Abby told him.
The detailed stage directions tell us how John looks, how he acts, his tone of voice and his facial expressions.
“John Proctor enters, carrying his gun”
This shows he is a masculine, strong and hardworking farmer.
“As gently as he can. Cider?”
This shows he doesn”t really want to do anything to hurt Elizabeth. He is treading on eggshells around her.
“With a violent undertone”
This shows that John has a bad temper, although he usually conceals it, hence the “undertone”, and shows the better side of his personality as a fair and decent man.
In my second scene, both John and Elizabeth have been accused of witchcraft, and they are both in the jail. It is the final scene of the play.
Miller wants to show that in the final scene, there is no suspicion or mistrust between them. Elizabeth has realised that John no longer has feelings for Abby, forgiving him, and John is not lying to Elizabeth anymore, and so they are both accepting eachother, and almost forgetting what has happened in the past.
They are both very close together, and this helps the reader understand that they have forgiven eachother and there is no coldness between them. When John tells her he might confess, he is self piteous . This shows just how ashamed and guilty he is following his affair with Abigail. Its almost like he is giving up his good name for Elizabeth as a punishment to himself.
“I am no good man. Nothings spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten before.”
Elizabeth tells him she wants him to live, and her opinion means a lot to him. This shows his strength of character as he is risking his name by confessing to be a witch, but also his personality, as he would rather live and support his wife and family than die a martyr, which shows that he thinks that if people believe he is evil, then it doesn”t matter to him. It is only the people closest to him that he cares about. We also see John to be a very stubborn, obstinate man in this scene.
“Only spite keeps me silent”
His stubbornness probably comes from the fact that he is very strong willed and determined not to let Danforth or Parris show the form with his signature on it to anyone.
“I have signed this. You have seen me. There is no need for this”
This shows that Miller wants John to have his life, but at a cost, and the cost is too high for John in the end, and his family pride shows that he will not have the names of his wife and children blackened.
“I have three children. How may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I who sold my friends?”
This quote proves that Proctor is a sensitive, considerate man who cares a lot deep down about what people think about him, especially the thoughts of his family and friends, and we learn from this that he is a very proud man.
The stage directions in this scene are also very important.
“With a cry of his whole soul” “His eyes full of tears”
These two quotes describe how angry and upset he is about having his name blackened. They show him to be a passionate man who is willing to fight for his cause, which is his name, but also, and more importantly, the name of his sons, and his wife, and therefore the thoughts of others.
In the end, Proctor is shown to be a man who died for a cause with a pure name, as a proud and dignified man.
I think that “The Crucible” gives out a number of messages. The first is meant to show that sometimes, and silly tale can sometimes get completely out of control, and end with a number of people being sent to jail, or even losing their lives, all of whom are totally innocent. Another is that in a story like this, the tramps, and all the people considered to be lower than everyone else were skapegoated, and this should not have happened. Miller is trying to say that inside, we are all the same, and what”s on the outside, and how many possessions we have cloud what”s on the inside.
Also in ” the crucible” a person would have been arrested if they were slightly eccentric and disobeyed the towns perception of how they should act , and by this Miller is trying to say that people shouldn”t be afraid, and get angry at things slightly different from themselves, and people shouldn”t be afraid of change. The last message is that you should be allowed to repent if you have sinned. In the case of John Proctor, the puritanical society in which he lived didn”t allow him to repent for his affair with Abby, so an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame stopped him from doing the right thing.
In the Crucible, Arthur Miller uses John as a way of getting his messages across. John is the character in the play that we can relate to, and he is the hero of the play. Miller uses many dramatic devices like how Proctor acts, looks, speaks, what he says, what people say to him, how he interacts with others and the relationships he has to get his messages across.
I chose the two particular scenes that I looked at because I thought that they showed up all these techniques very well. Also, one scene shows him in a cold, distant relationship with Elizabeth, and the other shows how close and loving his relationship is with her. I also chose these two scenes because they give the audience an amazing insight into how Johns mind works, and what his personality is like.