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"The Crucible" By Arthur Miller. Act 4 Analysis. "What Is Your Final Impression Of Proctor?"

1804 words - 7 pages

At the end of Act four in Arthur Miller's allegorical tale, 'The crucible', the play reaches its final and conclusive climax. John Proctor is forced by his conscience, his reason and the authority to reach a decision. On this decision balances his life, his reputation and his soul. The audience and Proctor's own conscience will either brand him a coward or a hero depending on this single choice. Ultimately, he chooses the path of the hero. However, John Proctor is a tragic hero, who until that point in the play has carried with him a horrid sin, which coupled with his morality led to his downfall. The final impression of Proctor is an inherently conflicting image. On one hand he is seen as a hero, because he sacrificed his life selflessly, and on the other hand, a sinner, because he committed a moral crime.One reason why Proctor may be considered a hero is because he shows the common and accepted characteristics of a hero. These characteristics include tenacity in the face of danger and fear, which is shown in act four by the way Herrick describes him in a jail cell, "He sits like some great bird, you'd not know he lived except he will take food from time to time". This instance in the play illustrates the passive, stubborn courage that Proctor's character encompasses. Another is honesty, which is apparent in the conversation between Proctor and his wife in Act two, "I wilted and like a Christian, I confessed". Proctor's morality and righteousness are also evident in the play's entirety; for example, his abstinence from further lust for Abigail in the beginning of the play, "No, no Abby that's done with," and his restrain from confession in order to save the reputation of his friends. Proctor's traits are also embellished with his independence, intelligence and quick wits all of which are demonstrated in his interaction with other characters. His independence and honesty is evident when Proctor claims, "I may speak my heart, I think." Proctor's charisma, quick witted intelligence, his "aura of strength" and fearful independence are all revealed as soon as he enters the play, "I'll show you a great doing on your arse," and Mercy Lewis's reaction, "(both afraid of him and strangely titillated.)". These qualities help Proctor eventually overcome his guilt, his fears and to become a hero in the eyes of the audience.Even though Proctor displays some of the commonly attributed characteristics of a hero, he still can not be considered a saint; for he also shows characteristics which are associated with sinners. Miller, by using a mix of both sinful and saintly traits, has created a protagonist who is flawed and is therefore equal to an ordinary human being. This ordinariness elevates Proctor's final hero status at the conclusion of the play in many ways. As Proctor does not begin the play as a perfect individual, the end result where he finds goodness in himself and then is hanged for showing defiance and upholding his moral values produces sympathy and...

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