With John Proctor as the play's tragic hero, The Crucible has in a sense, the structure of a classical tragedy. Proctor is a good man. He is honest, upright, and blunt- spoken, yet possesses one fatal flaw. His secret longing for Abigail Williams led to a prolonged affair. This infatuation created Abigail's jealousy of his wife, Elizabeth, and sets the entire witch hysteria in motion. In addition, this introduces a predictable plot in which the reader can perceive upcoming events. Once the trials begin, Proctor realizes that he can end Abigail's rampage through Salem only if he admits to his adultery. Such a confession would wreck his good name, and Proctor is, above all, a proud man who places great weight on his social status. Proctor redeems himself and provides a final criticism of the witch trials in his final act. Offered the opportunity to make a public admission of his guilt and still live, he almost gives in, even signing a written confession.
His enormous pride and dread of public opinion obligated him to withhold his adultery from the court, but by the end of the play he is more concerned with his personal integrity than his public reputation.