Arthur Miller's Presentation Of John Proctor's Moral Journey

1967 words - 8 pages

Examine Arthur Miller's Presentation Of John Proctor's Moral Journey -
The Crucible by Arthur Miller

"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller is a play based upon an American
settlement during the late 1600's. It is centred around actual events
from history to try to portray the way of life in this era. Miller has
chosen the confusion of the witch trials of this time, to provide a
base for the struggles of his main character, John Proctor.

At the beginning of the play the focus is laid mainly on introducing
the main characters and storyline, but as the script unfolds, it
becomes clear that John Proctor is the main character, something not
immediately obvious from the beginning. It is how Miller presents and
demonstrates Proctor's moral journey throughout the play, and the
different channels he uses to do this that I will focus on.

Act One really only sets the scene for the play by portraying the
different characters in the Salem and how their ways of life revolve
mostly around the 'church' and their religion. The inhabitants can for
the most part be sectioned off into three groups; the established
figures, eg. Rev. Parris; the citizens, and people who have in theory
'earned' their status, eg. Francis and Rebecca Nurse; and the
'outsiders', eg. Rev. Hale. This set-up seems to work well until the
events of the play, when people become separated by their views, and
everyone begins blaming others for their shortcomings in order to
maintain their authority and status. The main power in the village
being the church, naturally the Rev. Parris will do anything to keep
his position, especially as Miller informs us that his character feels
that for some reason everyone in the world is against him, and his
life is just one long struggle to survive!! Miller shows clearly in
the text that Proctor is strongly opposed to Parris, and his dislike
of the Reverend's pettiness and greed have left him disinclined to
attend church regularly, or have his third child baptised. Miller also
shows Proctor as angry at Parris taking it upon himself to call in
Rev. Hale - a specialist in the works of Satan, without consulting
anyone else first. He does not believe that it is needed, (though the
audience will never know whether or not he would have if Abby hadn't
told him there was no witch-craft involved,) and sees Parris as
foolish for kicking up a fuss. Although these actions and beliefs are
due solely to Proctor's own personal rebellion against Parris, (which
at first he thinks he can carry out quietly on his own,) with the
events that occur, they begin to look a lot more sinister - this does
not bode well for his reputation.

The information given on Proctor by Miller as background is very
precise. It explains that he has very strong views on what is decent /
right or wrong, and that he is not the sort of man to sympathise with
hypocrites. This is expressed clearly by Miller about halfway through
Act One,

"he had a sharp and...

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