The sample essay on John Proctor Essay deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Although there is enough evidence proving the fact that John Proctor is entirely responsible for his marital difficulties and his own downfall, the playwright, Arthur Miller, makes it hard for the audience not to sympathise with Proctor, when he decides to hang rather than sign his name to his confession.
The audience first meets John Proctor in Act One, where he is portrayed as a powerful man. ‘I forbid you leave this house, did I not. Now get you home! ‘ This mood changes when Mary Warren leaves and he is left alone with Abigail.
She flirts with him, ‘Gah! I’d almost forgot how strong you are, John Proctor! His response is evident to the audience through Arthur Miller’s use of stage directions, ‘looking at Abigail now, the faintest suggestion of a knowing smile on his face.
‘ He now completely changes the subject, ‘What’s mischief here? ‘ Although John Proctor has ended their affair, he cannot restrain from teasing her and saying things, which she may see as a ‘come-on’, being the impressionable teenage girl that she is, ‘ah, you’re wicked yet, aren’t y’! ‘ She is not ashamed of this fact, but is proud instead, ‘a trill of expectant laughter escapes her, and she dares come closer, feverishly looking into his eyes.
As Proctor starts towards the door, ‘she springs into his path.
‘ She then says, ‘give me a word, John. A soft word. ‘ Abigail believes she can tempt him, as Elizabeth is a ‘sickly wife’. Her dream is shattered when he replies, ‘No, no, Abby. That’s done with. ‘ Abigail starts to become angry, and says things about Elizabeth, ‘She is a cold, snivelling woman, and you bend to her! ‘ This has hit a nerve, and whilst ‘shaking her’ John says ‘Do you look for a whippin’? ‘ In tears Abigail replies, ‘I look for the John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart!
This shows that she has adult feelings for John, which he had taught her and cannot be forgotten. Their affair took her strict Puritan innocence away and if anyone were to find out, their honest reputation would be severely damaged. Although both John and Abigail have intimate feelings for each other, they cannot return to being lovers, as John has greater feelings for his wife. John also has a sense of guilt, as Elizabeth is willing to ‘forgive and forget’ his affair, which he does not deserve, and to go back to her would be a big mistake.
Arthur Miller’s stage directions give the audience a real feel for the emotions emitted in the play, as they can imagine what is happening in the speech. Without ‘shaking her’ and ‘in tears’ the audience would not know how the characters are feeling. Act Two begins with some detailed stage directions. It is explaining a typical Puritan family of that time; the husband, John, comes home from working on the field, and the wife, Elizabeth, singing to the children. He enters the house and notices a pot in the fireplace. He smells it and ‘is not quite pleased.
He then drops a pinch of salt into it, tastes it again. The one pinch of salt would not have made the slightest of difference, but he still wants to be the head of the house, despite his affair with Abigail, which would have destroyed their family. This proves John is still the dominant member of the family. When he hears her footsteps on the stairs he swings the pot back into the fireplace. They then have a strained conversation, which mainly involves John asking her questions and Elizabeth replying in short or one-word answers, ‘Are you well today? ‘I am. ‘
She brings the stew to him and as he tastes it he says, ‘It’s well seasoned. ‘ Later on he says to Elizabeth, ‘Let you look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not. ‘ She replies, ‘I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. ‘ This means that she cannot forgive him until he has forgiven himself. She then says he is bewildered, and he responds whilst ‘laughing bitterly’, ‘Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer. ‘ John somehow thinks that she has judged him harshly and hadn’t shown him enough justice.
During Act Four, the tension and coldness from Act Two has gone, as John is talking to Elizabeth after being parted. Once they have discussed the events of the trials, John says to Elizabeth, ‘I have been thinking I would confess to them, Elizabeth. What say you if I give them that? ‘ Elizabeth replies, ‘I cannot judge you John. ‘ She believes that John is one again righteous as he has the courage to face the injustice of the court. John now is trying to make their relationship better, and communicates with her as he would have done before he affair, ‘I would have your forgiveness, Elizabeth.
She replies, ‘It is not for me to give. John, it come naught that I should forgive you, if you’ll not forgive yourself. ‘ John still feels guilty for what he did to Elizabeth, but she is telling him to forgive himself. She then puts part of the blame on herself, ‘It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery. ‘ This is to make John feel better about himself, and perhaps change his life-altering decision. John decides to confess as he wants his life back, but Danforth demands he write his confession, which he agrees to.
However when he is told his confession would be bailed on the church door, he protests once again: (With a cry of his soul) Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live my life without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! John’s emotional response is evoked by his innocence in the crime he is accused of, and he is willing to die to keep his good name. This shows that he deserves the sympathy from his emotional outbursts
John then tears up his confession ‘weeping in fury. ‘ This is the noblest thing John has done in the play. Hale says to John, ‘Man, you will hang! You cannot! ‘ with desperation, but John replies ‘his eyes full of tears’, ‘I can. And there’s your first marvel, that I can. ‘ Even he is surprised by his actions that later cost him his life. John is finally forgiving himself and making amends, and not even Elizabeth can change his mind. Hale pleads to her to stop her, ‘Go to him, take his shame away,’ but she replies, ‘he have his goodness now.
God forbid I take it from him. ‘ Although she loves John and doesn’t want him to die, she is allowing him his penance, to make up for the wrongs he has done and the hurt he has caused. During Act One, John deserves no sympathy whatsoever, but by Act Four, he does everything in his ability to bring justice to the court, and to save the life of Elizabeth, even when it means making his affair with Abigail known to the village. Despite all the hurt and sin John caused, he makes amends by standing with those who refuse to confess, and hangs with dignity and pride.