John Proctor's Conflict Between Personal Identity and Public Image

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Society labels individuals to have certain morals, values, and ideas that most often are contradicted by what the individual's own self-image. In Arthur Miller's novel The Crucible the hero , John Proctor, is challenged by his desire to maintain his high social standing in the community even though he believes himself to be majorly flawed. John Proctor lives within a rigid, theocratic Puritan society which condemns miscreants. His essential conflict was the difference between the images of his own personal identity and that which society produced.

John Proctor thought himself to be a fraud and therefore, believed he should not be held in such high social regard. The community looked up to him as an honest, good, hard-working man, "... in Proctor's presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly"(Miller20). Unfortunately , Proctor's innate impulses caused he much internal turmoil, "...he is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct" (Miller20). His extramarital affair with Abigail Williams, a seventeen year old ex-servant, defiled his own moral code. It besmirched him in the eyes of God, his wife Elizabeth, and himself. Proctor lacks the capacity to forgive his transgressions because he cannot seem to wash away his sins. Even though most of the people around him see him in a positive light, he feels a strong sense of guilt, ( Elizabeth to Proctor) "I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, John Proctor"(Miller 55). Because of Proctor's guilt over the sordid relationship between him and Abigail he deems his public image to a be facade. Living under this pretense causes him much anguish though out the book.

Proctor is reluctant to give up his public veneration and confess to his sins. Proctor knows that he is a charlatan but does not want to cheapen his identity. His greatest possession is the respect and integrity...
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