The Dilemma Of Conscience That Proctor Faces In Arthur Miller's The Crucible

2369 words - 9 pages

The Dilemma of Conscience that Proctor Faces in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

Conscience is the awareness of right and wrong. In the Crucible, the
idea of conscience is strongly emphasised.

Throughout the play, John Proctor is faced with situations regarding
his family, friends, himself and moreover his moral conscience. The
idea of conscience in The Crucible is based very much on Christian
concepts, firstly the idea of morality, or conscience of right and
wrong, secondly the idea of the confession of sin, and finally the
idea of guilt and penance for sins.

Proctor is so patently the victim of hysteria that his very existence
is a challenge to the fanatic temperament, and he is consumed by its

Although Proctor is seen as a good man he is racked with guilt after
his lecherous affair with Abigail Williams. We learn that Abigail can
be very manipulative and continues to try and regain the affections if
Proctor. "Give me a word John, a soft word." Abigail refers to John
that he had "sweated like a stallion" Horses are often used to
represent passion and sexuality. Also, the verb "sweated" indicates
intense physical attraction. John however is tempted to reciprocate
the affections that Abigail has given to him, but is only held back by
his love for Elizabeth. "I will cut off my hand before I reach for you
again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched Abby". This shows that
Proctor is a man of moral conscience who is determined not to repeat
his mistakes.

Never the less this has an effect on his conscience. "He is a sinner,
a sinner not only against the moral fashion but against his own vision
of decent conduct."

Although it seems minor, another part of Proctor's dilemma within the
play is the fact that he does not enjoy the company of Reverend Samuel
Parris. "I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him
preach only hellfire and bloody damnation" "Can you speak one minute
before we land in hell again. I am sick of hell!" These statements
imply that Proctor is also very honest and speaks the truth if he
feels it is necessary, even is it is against higher authority. Yet
Parris is the type of character who refuses to be pushed down and in
his own subtle way retaliates back "Beware this man, Your Excellency,
this man is mischief." Comments like these had a slight impact on
Danforth, which was unhelpful to Proctors position in the court. Ever
since Reverend Parris took his position in the community, John became
an individual by standing out in the crowd and noticing Parris's
problem with money. While in the courts, he states an opinion. "I-I
have no love for Mr. Parris. It is no secret. But God I surely love"
Because his thoughts on the reverend reflect on him as being "wrong",
he is entitled to his opinion. He knows he loves God and that is all

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