John Proctor – a Tragic Hero?

9 September 2016

John Proctor – A Tragic Hero? Tragic heroes are often referred to as those who have a stature of greatness and possess honorable qualities, but has a major flaw. As a result, a great downfall occurs due to their flaw, and other characters may be affected by this single downfall as well. Yet, the fall does not necessarily mean it leads to a total loss, because the outcome may be a realization of committing the righteous actions in hopes of saving themselves and their reputation as well.

In Arthur Miller’s famous playwright, The Crucible, the character John Proctor can potentially be considered a tragic classical hero. For one, he does possess notable qualities of noble characteristics. He is not in a position of a higher stature, considering the fact that he is an average farmer, but he does live a noble life with his wife and three children. What created his flaw was his affair with Abigail Williams, the main antagonist in the story. This affair eventually lead her to accuse his wife, Elizabeth, of witchcraft in order for her to gain the possession of Proctor.

John Proctor – a Tragic Hero? Essay Example

From there, many other accusations arise and the Salem witchcraft trial becomes a gruesome event. Though having an affair with someone isn’t considered very “noble,” Proctor did however show his willingness to at least reverse the effects of his actions to save others around him, even if it meant the risk of his own life. Proctor accused the other girls of pretending their accusations on others, and that it’s all false. In Act III of The Crucible, Abigail and the others are putting on a show, as if they are being cursed by a demon and such. He accuses, “How do you call Heaven!

Whore! Whore! ” towards Abigail during her show, and brings about the judge’s attention. Proctor knows they are pretending, and says so, but Judge Danforth does not agree, and Abigail insists he is a liar. He then confesses about his affair with Abigail in order to prove that she is not an innocent being either. “On the last night of my joy, some eight months past. She used to serve me in my house, sir… ” Proctor starts as he reveals the background. He then insists his wife is a good woman who doesn’t lie, “In her life, sir, she has never lied… my wife cannot lie. I have paid much to learn it, sir. ” From this, Elizabeth is put back on the spotlight, but caring for her husband too much, she denies the fact that Abigail and Proctor had an affair, which lead to more controversy for Proctor’s case. Yet, he did try to make some right come out of it, and that is a very heroic action performed. John Proctor might seemingly possess a tragic heroes’ traits, but that could be debateable. After all, he did ultimately fail to save anyone at the end, more over failing to save himself in general.

He actually had more flaws than of heroic characteristics. He has an aspect of excessive pride of himself and his commitment into keeping his reputation of goodness, yet fails on that, too, towards the end. A tragic hero is someone who has a tragic flaw, which leads to his/ her downfall and often times ends in a tragedy, such as death. John Proctor definitely applied to all the criteria pertaining to a tragic hero. Some may argue he is not considering his flaws. Though it may be debatable, would a tragic hero necessarily have to perform heroic actions?

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