John Proctor, throughout the play, undergoes a personal dilemma. He earns our respect during the play by making some moral choices. Towards the end of the play he follows the courage of his convictions but ironically has to play the ultimate price.
Miller introduces a complex character. John Proctor, in the directors notes, comes across as a well respected person to the puritan community of Salem Massachusetts. Although would he be if they knew he was harbouring a secret? He is a guilt ridden character who has defied the laws of 17th century Salem.
Proctor goes against the norms of the Puritan religion as he has a very critical view of his minister; Parris. He thinks that Parris is materialistic and chooses this over religion, “…there were pewter candle sticks upon the alter… but Parris came and for twenty weeks preach nothing but golden candlestick until he had them.” this shows Proctors rebellious nature and the fact that he doesn’t fear to question Parris. Also John Proctor doesn’t get on with Putnam. They argue over land “that tract is in my bounds.” His initial reaction to the rumour of witchcraft is that he thinks its all nonsense. This shows he’s strong minded and doesn’t thing twice about going against typical puritan values. He has a close knit friendship with Rebecca, Francis and Giles as he recognises that they are inherently good people. Proctor knows that that they are completely true to there religion and will stand by it whatever the cost. John Proctor feels that Paris and Putnam are stereotypical Puritans. There is therefore a contrast between the two and in this case Proctor makes the right decision as Rebecca, Giles and Francis all become martyrs.
Proctor is a flawed character as he has admitted adultery with Abigail Williams. Proctor is flirtatious with Abigail and enjoys teasing her. Proctor realises what he’s risking and tries to put a stop to it. Abigail tries to remind him of what they had by describing Proctors and hers relationship as a passionate one “I know how you clutched my back behind your house.” Miller intends the audience to be shocked and disgusted by what Proctor has done. The audience would have little respect for John Proctor at this moment in the play.
John proctor and his wife, Elizabeth, seem a typical puritan couple. The conversation that takes place between husband and wife seems polite but a bit immobile. In the directors notes at the start of act two John Proctor comes home from the village. He sees the pot of soup on the fire and goes to season it. This could indicate that the flavour has gone from there relationship. As what is stopping Elizabeth forgiving and forgetting is that she doesn’t quite know what he still feels for Abigail.
When Proctor is sat eating Elizabeth asks John if he saw Abigail in Salem, he says he has but he was with a crowd. Elizabeth knows that this is a lie and procures the truth from him. Proctor shows his angry side when he shouts at Elizabeth for divulging her suspicion. “No more! I should have roared you down when first you told me your suspicion… Some dream I had must have mistaken you for God that day. But you're not, you're not, and let you remember it!… ” Proctor currently thinks that Elizabeth is not like God, she is not as perfect and that she tries to see him through her own judgment. Proctor feels that she is always trying to discover something that he isn’t doing. He feels guilty for committing adultery and tries to regain her trust but she always seems to be suspicious which holds them back. The audience at this point dislike Proctor for his anger against his wife who is just trying to stop proctor from committing adultery again.
By act four, Elizabeths and Proctors relationship has grown stronger. Elizabeth knows of her husbands forgiveness when he had fought for...