Crucible

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade January 2002

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The Crucible Proctor, the play's tragic hero, has the conscience of an honest man, but he also has a secret flaw"“his past affair with Abigail. Her sexual jealousy, accentuated by Proctor's termination of their affair, provides the spark for the witch trials; Proctor thus bears some responsibility for what occurs. He feels that the only way to stop Abigail and the girls from their lies is to confess his adultery. He refrains for a long time from confessing his sin, however, for the sake of his own good name and his wife's honor. Eventually, though, Proctor's attempts to reveal Abigail as a fraud without revealing the crucial information about their affair fail, and he makes a public confession of his sin. But by the time he comes clean, it is too late to stop the craze from running its course, and Proctor himself is arrested and accused of being a witch.

At this point, Proctor faces a new dilemma and wrestles with his conscience over whether to save himself from the gallows with a confession to a sin that he did not commit. The judges and Hale almost convince him to do so, but in the end, he cannot bring himself to sign his confession. Such an action would dishonor his fellow prisoners, who are steadfastly refusing to make false confessions; more important, he realizes that his own soul, his honor, and his honesty are worth more than a cowardly escape from the gallows. He dies and, in doing so, feels that he has finally purged his guilt for his failure to stop the trials when he had the chance. As his wife says, "he have his goodness now."