John Proctor: Tragic Hero Essay

1679 words - 7 pages

In the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller, John Proctor is seen as a tragic hero because he is able to overcome his tragic flaw of hubris, but still the circumstances led to his death.A tragic hero is a person who has sacrificed their lives for a principle. It is shown in the play that ordinary people can be tragic heroes. They believed so passionately in an idea that they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for it. There are four main aspects that represent a tragic hero. They are hubris, hamartia, catharsis and lastly catastrophe. Hubris is the excess, usually of pride, or overwhelming self confidence. Hamartia is the weakness, usually an error in judgement. Also, known as a tragic flaw. Catharsis is the tragic representations of suffering and defeat. Generally leaves an audience feeling, not depressed but relieved or even exalted. Catastrophe is the occurrence of a sudden reversal of the hero's fortunes from happiness to disaster.Hamartia John Proctor's tragic flaw or hamartia is his commitment to honesty. Honesty is defined as not given to lying, cheating, or stealing etc. It is not characterized to falsehood or intent to mislead. John Proctor has a high sense of integrity and does not abandon his friends even though his wife is safe from accusations of witchcraft. When Judge Danforth asks Proctor if he will drop his accusations against the court, he says, "I "" I think I cannot . . . These are my friends. Their wives are also accused."(92) Although he is somewhat reluctant, he stands up for the truth even at the risk of exposing his affair with Abigail. This is shown in Act Three when John Proctor can no longer take the lying and denial of his affair with Abigail Williams and confesses to the court room of his sins. He tells Danforth, "I have known her, sir. I have known her."(110) This meaning that John has had an affair with Abigail even though he is married to Elizabeth. John Proctor goes on to describe his error in judgement and describes how he dishonored his name. He says to Danforth, "I have made a bell of my honor! I have rung the doom of my good name "" you will believe me."(111) By this attempt to expose Abigail as a fraud, he risks his reputation and is shamed before the town when his lechery is revealed. He also risks making himself a target for accusations of witchcraft. After telling his confession to the court, townsfolk now look to him as an easy scapegoat. In Act Four, John Proctor signs the confession to being a witch and then realizes that honesty is more important to him. He grabs the confession and tears it to pieces in front of Danforth"his breast heaving ,his eyes staring ,Proctor tears the paper and crumples it ,and he is weeping in furry , but erect. (144)" This is a great act of courage shown by Proctor because he knows he must die as an honest man.Hubris Hubris is the most important aspect to show that John Proctor is a tragic hero. John Proctor is, at first, willing to offer up a false...

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