John Proctor's Change in The Crucible

Essay by mdf44High School, 10th gradeA+, October 2009

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At the beginning of the play, John Proctor is deeply troubled about his affair with Abigail. He ended it and confessed to Elizabeth, but he is obviously troubled about that decision and not truly repented. He says to Elizabeth, “…your justice would freeze beer!” in response to her distrust of him due to the affair and even says, “I should have roared you down when you first told me your suspicious.” Clearly, he has doubts as to whether or not it was the right decision to admit committing adultery. When he is given a moment alone with her for the first time months after the affair, he even flirts with Abigail; even if he didn’t mean to, this shows he is not exactly a changed man at this point in the play.

By the end, Proctor truly is a changed man. When Elizabeth is arrested, he starts to change his priorities, from thinking of his own wellbeing and reputation to doing what he knows is right.

He first tells Mary Warren to expose the girls, then, when push comes to shove, he reveals his sin to everyone in the courtroom. This substantiates his change. Before, he cared most about preserving his “good name”, but he shows that he has gotten past both of those concerns in favor of the wellbeing of his wife and the truth. Of course, when Elizabeth is tricked into refuting this confession, he seemingly has to choose between the two.

Confessing would, of course, let him live to see his child and to support his family. This is his initial choice, and he would have gone through with it if it did not mean losing his integrity- his “goodness.” He sees Rebecca Nurse, a woman who supposedly had never sinned in her life, possibly being condemned...