Arthur Miller's The Crucible: Gaining Integrity through Failure
Integrity is achieved through the gaining of wisdom; the gaining of wisdom is a direct result of failure. Arthur Miller wrote the moralizing drama, The Crucible, in this play the main character John Proctor was wrongly accused of witchcraft and served the death penalty along with two others. The story of John Proctor was indirectly summarized by the American author William Saroyan when he said, "Good people...are good because they've come to wisdom through failure," meaning that a person willing to sacrifice for his beliefs is good because although he has failed, by not according to his moral codes he has gained integrity and the ability to refuse to live a life of hypocrisy; further, John Proctor is good because he died refusing to lie in order to live. Proctor failed because his commitments wavered depending upon his own personal needs. Miller demonstrated Proctor's failure, and later redemption and goodness throughout the text by means of characterization, conflict, and theme.
Miller uses the literary element of characterization to show John Proctor's transformation from failure to goodness. There is a definite contradiction in Proctor; additionally, he says that he loves his wife; but, he adulters her as soon as she becomes ill. Also he does not attend church because he dislikes the way in which Reverend Samuel Parris governs the church, as well as the way he preaches. Proctor abhors how Parris uses donations for the church to buy superfluous things, " ...When I look to heaven and see my money glaring at his elbows- it hurt my prayer, sir, it hurt my prayer" (69).
Proctor's commitment wavers depending upon his own personal needs. Arthur Miller characterized him as one with weak theology and one who struggled with personal commitment,