Integrity As A Resolving Theme Essay

1156 words - 5 pages

Ethical behavior is, surprisingly, a rare trait in humanity. Integrity is often overlooked until it presents itself in someone at a specific moment. In the 1950’s, during the era of McCarthyism, many were arrested on suspicion of communism. The lack of ethical behavior during this time caused people to turn against and distrust each other, regardless of previous companionships. No one contradict the accusations even to save a friend or colleague. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, morals and lack thereof are crucial themes in The Crucible, but a rare and special trait in the characters. John Proctor is one character that fully embodies the theme of integrity in The Crucible, but his integrity is buried deep within him.
From the moment John Proctor is introduced, Arthur Miller makes it clear that Proctor’s image of himself is distorted in regard to how he is viewed by others. Proctor considers himself a bad person. However, outwardly, he has a very confident and assertive manner. Due to his crime of infidelity, he struggles with a vast amount of inner turmoil. Miller describes this struggle in his introduction of Proctor by saying, “He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct” (19). The author sets the stage perfectly by giving readers a hint of the intricate plot of The Crucible and how Proctor’s flawed character is intertwined in the story. While he is not a content man on the inside, he presents himself in an utterly different way. Everyone respects Proctor and recognizes him as someone not to be messed with. He is “respected and even feared in Salem” (19). However, some resent him for his bluntly honest personality. Miller again illustrates the complexity of Proctor’s personality and the town’s mixed feelings of him in his introduction: “He was the kind of man-powerful of body, even-tempered, and not easily led… In Proctor’s presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly- and a Proctor is always marked for calumny therefore” (19). In the play, people listen to Proctor. Aside from Reverend Parris, almost every character seems to trust him. He is a strong man in every manner. However, it is also made clear that he has deep internal conflict.
John Proctor is an extremely complex character. He is full of self-loathing and constantly tries to redeem himself throughout the play, but cannot shake the feeling that people see through him and consider him a bad person. After Proctor cheats on Elizabeth with Abigail, he hates himself for being a sinner and thinks that Elizabeth despises him too. She talks to him about how if he is unable to let the past go, her forgiveness is not adequate to make him feel better: “It come naught that I should forgive you, if you’ll not forgive yourself. It is not my soul, John, it is yours” (126). Elizabeth loves John and does forgive him. However, throughout the play, she constantly attempts to get him to forgive himself. She knows he needs to...

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