To What Extent Does John Proctor Conform to the Ideal Tragic Hero in “the Crucible”

Topics: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, John Proctor Pages: 3 (941 words) Published: October 23, 2011
To what extent does John Proctor conform to the ideal tragic hero in “The Crucible”? The most well known definition of a tragic hero comes from the philosopher, Aristotle. When explaining a tragic hero, Aristotle states "The change in the hero's fortunes be not from misery to happiness, but on the contrary, from happiness to misery, and the cause of it must not lie in any depravity but in some great error on his part." Also, he explains the four essential qualities that a tragic hero should possess, which are goodness, appropriateness, lifelike, and consistency. All of these factors help to categorize John Proctor as a tragic hero in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”.
‘The Crucible’ was written by Arthur Miller during the McCarthy era and it was based on the research he did in Salem, Massachusetts about the witch trials. He discovered records of the trials in which nineteen men and women and two dogs were hanged for witchcraft; one man pressed to death for choosing not to give evidence to the court, 55 people having confessed to witchcraft and 150 people awaiting trial in jail. The McCarthy era was a time when thousands of people were accused of being communists or communist supporters. Just like the Massachusetts witch trials, the committee meetings were based solely on prejudice, self-gain, hearsay and rumors.

When the play begins we soon come to realise that Proctor is keeping a dark secret to himself. His old servant girl, Abigail Williams, fell in love with him whilst working for him. In the first scene we come to understand that Abigail and John once had a sexual relationship and that he committed adultery against his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. A tragic hero, through some flaw in character or error in judgment passes from great happiness to great sorrow. His relationship with Abigail was his big error in judgment which led to his great sorrow. Every tragic hero has a weakness; his was choosing to keep silent and not tell...
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