Comparing John Proctor And Arthur Dimmesdale From The Scarlet Letter

1184 words - 5 pages

Comparing John Proctor and Arthur Dimmesdale

John Proctor and Arthur Dimmesdale are exceptionally similar characters despite the fact that each was written about in very different eras. Both characters lived in the same time period, however, The Scarlet Letter was written in the late 1800’s, and The Crucible was written in the 1950’s. One cannot look at the qualities of Proctor and Dimmesdale without discussing each author and the time period in which each story was written. Despite minor differences, Proctor and Dimmesdale are very similar characters.

Proctor and Dimmesdale both live in late 17th century New England. This is a time when religion is the only basis of government and moral standards. Everyone believes so deeply in the Bible. Both Proctor and Dimmesdale are high figures in their respective societies. Dimmesdale is the minister in his town, and Proctor is a highly respected townsman. In addition to the similarities in their personalities, Proctor and Dimmesdale are very similar in their physical characteristics. Both men are roughly thirty years old. They are both tall, attractive, and in good physical condition. Both men have also committed a sin. They have committed adultery. Dimmesdale has had sex with Hester Prynne, a woman in the town who has a husband back in England, and Proctor has engaged in sexual congress with Abigail Williams, who had previously been Proctor’s servant. Both men, due to their high stature in their respective communities, must keep their sins concealed from the public. Dimmesdale is the minister of the town, and therefore, the moral leader of the people. Every Sunday, he leads the townspeople in worship and tells them to confess their sins. If people knew that he had committed adultery, not only would his image and name have been destroyed, the judicial punishment would have been death. Proctor, who is very religious but does not attend Church regularly, will lose his status in the eyes of the townsmen if his sin is revealed to them. Proctor does not attend Church because he does not like the minister in his town. It has nothing to do with his involvement in the religion. He would be banished from the community, as would his family, and his name would be destroyed. Proctor and Dimmesdale, despite having very similar personalities, were written about in extremely different time periods.

The Crucible was written in the 1950’s, at a time when many people were McCarthyists. McCarthyism was a belief that the United States should be purified of all people who were involved with Communism. Anyone who was suspected of being communistic could have been arrested. Miller wrote The Crucible at this time to show the American people the ignorance of their acts. The Americans in the 1950’s were behaving almost exactly like the 17th century townspeople in The Crucible. Miller made his point by demonstrating to the Americans the absurdity of their actions using the ridiculous witch-hunts. One...

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