In 1952, Arthur Miller wrote a play called The Crucible. Written in a period of heightened tension in America due to the persecution of communists, Miller uses the play as a device to make a statement about that time. The play surrounds the events of the Salem witch trials of 1692, which Miller uses as an allegory for the McCarthyite persecution and the Red Scare of the time of the play’s publication, which was subsequently banned.
Miller remains to this day a world renowned playwright with his plays performed globally on a regular basis to this day because of the enduring messages his plays convey.
John Proctor is an extremely complex character, who we as the audience come to love over the course of the play. Proctor is predominantly a typical “good man” who has a good wife, they are not criminals, and Miller’s motivation is that this very fairytale image should build dramatic tension ready for something bad to happen; we expect the worse.
He is initially portrayed as a desperate failure in the author’s interlude; and these interludes appear frequently, written in an unadorned manner and so we find it easy to trust every word that is initially written about Proctor. So when the author claims that Proctor “regarded himself as a kind of fraud”, we immediately digest this information; assuming the very worst of Proctor, that he is a hypocrite, and someone who is not quite the man that he wants to be.
This low start means that Proctor has the ability to rise in social status throughout the play, and eventually parodies a sort of rags to riches tale. Further along into the play, Proctor’s status does rise significantly due to various arguments that he triumphs, such as when Putnam casts suspicion over what or whose wood he has been pulling around, but upon meeting Abigail Williams his status with the audience drops once again, as we get evidence that he is indeed a hypocrite, going against the morals that he preaches by sleeping with Abigail, a teenage girl.
Furthermore, when he feebly attempts to deny these accusations, “Aye, but we did not”, it only further goes to show how weak a man he can be. This has further relevance when we recognise that adultery of any type was vehemently frowned upon by the Christian bodies that ran the country, furthering the perception that Proctor is a desperate failure and cannot even keep faithful to the vows he made to God.