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John Proctor - In Depth Character Revision ('The Crucible')
Terms in this set (23)
How old is John Proctor's and what is his profession? (Superficial understanding of a character is important before digging deeper)
He is a farmer in his middle thirties. A simple man of not much interest or uniqueness in this aspect.
How is John Proctor described at the start of the book?
Even tempered, powerful of body and not easily led. He is also said to be a sinner against both the church and his own moral conduct. He is religious, as everyone in Salem is, but is also more doubtful than most of the spiritual legitimacy of how it is practised within the town.
'(Both afraid of him and strangely titillated)'- A stage direction for Mercy Lewis. This would suggest that he is somewhat attractive to the local girls, surely a sign that doesn't bode well for a married man in a strictly religious time.
Who was Mary Warren in relation to John Proctor?
She was his servant. She displays more moral ambiguity than most of the other girls in the story as she does stand up for him and his wife, and she comes forward to question the witch trials, though she falls foul to Abigail's pressure eventually.
Who is Elizabeth Proctor in relation to John?
She is John Proctors wife. She lives with him and holds strong disdain for Abigail expressing numerous times that she wants nothing to do with her.
How did Abigail and Proctor originally cross paths?
She became his housekeeper while his wife was very ill. This is never described in 'The Crucible' but certain things are alluded to that Elizabeth was not very happy about.
In reality the former part of this actually happened but Abigail was only 11 at the time (1692), not 17 like in the play. As such it can be assumed (and hoped) that Miller took creative licence with the affair which there is no historical evidence of.
What does the quote 'Ah you're wicked yet, aren't y'?' (p17) spoken by Proctor to Abigail suggest about their relationship?
It's flirting: there is an attraction of some sort between them. The word 'wicked' doesn't insinuate that this attraction is going to end well.
What can you tell from 'You'll be clapped in the stocks before you're twenty' (p17)?
Proctor speaks from experience or at least knowledge: he is older than she is. This would suggest that they were having an inappropriate relationship of some kind. The context of the quote makes it seem as if he is amused by Abigail's antics which strengthens this assessment.
'You'll speak nothin' of Elizabeth' (p19) What does this suggest about John and Elizabeth's relationship?
It was strained due to Abigail but he genuinely cared for her and wanted to defend her despite his implied actions. It would also hint at him having had enough of Abigail and wanting rid of her due to aggressive tone. He deeply regrets and feels guilty over what happened between them even if he did enjoy it at a base level.
What does Abigail do to Elizabeth due to her attraction for John and why?
She has a poppet (small figure of a human being used in sorcery/witchcraft), that was given to Elizabeth by Mary, discovered in Elizabeth's room with a needle in it. Presumably she planted the needle herself or made Mary do so. Abigail then fakes collapse with a needle lodged in her own body and leads the law to find the poppet. This leads to Elizabeth being accused of witchcraft, trialled for it and ultimately killed. The entire reason for all of this is that Abigail wants Elizabeth out of the way, because it's her belief that once Elizabeth is gone she can become the subject of John's affections instead.
What does 'This society will not be a bag to swing around your head, Mr Putnam' (p22) and 'We vote by name in this society, not by acreage' (p23) say about Proctor?
He is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs and what he thinks to be right, even in the face of those of influence. He likes to make his voice known and doesn't believe in rolling over for those in power or letting them walk all over him.
When John directs 'the last meeting I were at you spoke so long on deeds and mortgages I thought it were an auction' (p24) and 'I like not the smell of this 'authority'' (p25) towards Parris and Putnam what is he saying about the Salem Church?
He holds no respect for is structure nor it's leaders as they are self-serving and unfair. This mirrors Miller's views of McCarthy's leadership in the 1940s and 1950s (If you don't get exactly what I mean by this or who McCarthy actually is then then a quick history lesson will be of benefit).
While a religious man, Proctor doesn't agree with the others of his ilk in certain matters and this has opened up a rift within the village. It's even suggested that he had started a party against Parris within the Church. Miller himself said in his notes said that he found nothing redeemable in the historical Parris and the same courtesy would be extended to the fictional one so perhaps this is understandable.
How does Putnam contribute to Proctor's eventual snap?
He is a greedy, selfish man that will do anything to become rich and that uses accusations of witchcraft to his own ends.
Paraphrased from p26-
Putnam: That tract is in my bounds, it's in my bounds Mr Proctor.
Proctor: I bought that tract from Goody Nurses husband five years ago.
Putnam: He had no right to sell it. It stands clear in my Grandfather's will that all land between the river and -
Proctor: Your grandfather had a habit of willing away land that was never his if I may be plain.
Putnam would do whatever he could to further his cause and proctor is disgusted by how he involves religion in this pursuit. This draws many parallels with people accusing others of being communists for equally petty and self-obsessed reasons during Miller's era.
'(with a grin): I mean to please you, Elizabeth' (p42) What is the importance of this quote and the way that it's presented?
It can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly that he is the typical, somewhat lecherous, character that he's often depicted as, which is what led to his downfall. However secondly, and more seriously, that he's reassuring Elizabeth of his care for her for despite his many faults. Of course he gives her many reasons to ignore this and doubt him later.
'An everlasting funeral marches round your heart'- (p45) John to Elizabeth
Things aren't going so great for John at home due to his actions, his wife won't let them go. This leads to him having cause to give in to temptation and keep said actions up (seen in his flirting) in a vicious circle that quite literally marches around his heart. How ironic.
Really I just love this metaphor and the imagery it contains, it's one of my favourites in the whole play. I just wanted an excuse to sneak it in somewhere.
'Like a Christian, I confessed' (p45)
'Like' not as. The distinction is important: he links himself to the religion yet also separates himself from it.
'What work you do! It's strange work for a Christian girl to hang old women' (p48) - Proctor to Mary
'How may such a woman murder children'(p59) - Proctor to Hale
Proctor doesn't believe in Mary's claims that Sarah Good was guilty or that Rebecca Nurse killed Mrs Putnam's children. He believes in the bonds forged between him and others over time above the accusation that they've been taken by the Devil when there is no solid proof. This shows him to be a character that will look to enact change in what is a damaged society instead of being swept along with the flow.
'If she is innocent! Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent or Abigail? Is the accuser always Holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God's fingers? I'll tell you what's walking Salem - vengeance is walking Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom' (p63) (Don't quote this whole thing in an exam, it's just useful for context. Ellipses are your friend as is selective analysis of words)
Proctor is stuck in a system that he can so clearly see is broken while everybody else either won't acknowledge it or has their hands tied on the matter. He is incredibly frustrated by this. The fact that power (tantamount to unlimited as far as he is concerned) is available to those that will only see harm done to others for their own gain, is disgraceful. The fact that he can't stop this is, in his eyes, even worse.
Any of the young manipulative girls or powerful, affluent men can point whichever finger they wish and sing about the devil until the sun goes down all while being listened to and yet the only thing Proctor can do is sit tight and accept whatever comes his way. It must be a horrible feeling to know that those who have earned less than you (at least Proctor has some semblance of morals) can do more and harm your life in the process.
What two events show how Proctor's pride lead to his untimely demise?
Originally he refuses to admit to his affair with Abigail which would have stopped her manipulative spree, as he is too proud to lose his reputation and wants to save face. This sets things in motion for her sending 19 innocent people to their deaths and for many more people to get accused of witchcraft.
Upon being trialled himself, John refuses to confess to save his life. He sticks by his morals and believes that he will go to heaven for his integrity, he is too proud to lie. This is why he is considered more respected and heroic than a character such as Hale who encourages lying among the accused.
'Elizabeth: You have a faulty understanding of young girls. There is a promise made in any bed-
Proctor: (striving against his anger) What promise!' (p50) How does this explain why John had an affair and how he can still love Elizabeth through it?
He genuinely believed that Abigail would think nothing of it and that she wouldn't pursue him, not that this makes his actions any more excusable. He was, for lack of a better word, simply bored while Elizabeth was ill. He didn't do it because his feelings changed for her but because he was stupid enough to not know better.
'Mary: I cannot, they'll turn on me
(Proctor strides and catches her, and she is repeating 'I cannot, I cannot!')
Proctor: My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me!
Mary: (struggling to escape him) I cannot do it, I cannot' (p66) What I Proctor showing here again? Bonus points for working out why I left in Mary's lines too as it's not, strictly speaking, related to John.
Yes, it's yet another quote conveying that Proctor really does love Elizabeth despite everything else going on. It's similar to card 8 in that he is getting defensive of her. The line 'that goodness will not die for me' shows him distancing himself from 'goodness' by implying that he is something less worthy This is important because it is the point at which he realises that the sins he needs to atone for have terrible consequences and at which he prioritises Elizabeth over himself which has it's own consequences later on.
Mary's part has been left in because it shows how this whole problem arose to be in the first place and why people are so paranoid. You see, it's evident that Mary has been threatened, that the ringleader Abigail and her group are forcing her to act like she knows of the Devil and to go along with their plan. We also know that Abigail and the rest of the girls stand to gain a lot from lying about the Devil so presumably others in similar situations across the country do too. While it was people of religion that started the witch hunts, it's people like Abigail that perpetuated the fear of the Devil to the point that everyone is suspicious of their own neighbour. Notwithstanding of whether or not the Devil actually exists (I'll leave that up to your discretion), it's never once shown within the context of the play. This means that Abigail and those like her managed to scare people enough of something that isn't even there, that they were driven to killing each other. And to think all that they did was scream a bit and fall on the floor. It's like a perverse mixture of teenage social hierarchy power plays and Chinese whispers, the young girls are all jostling for status and everyone else is believing what they think they know. It's quite scary the lengths that Abigail went to really given how many people across America died, after all she was smart enough to know her part in this.
'But who tells us Rebecca Nurse murdered seven babies by sending out her spirit on them? It is the children only, and this one will swear she lied to you.' (p73) How does this quote show the reasoning behind why John continues to stand up for his friends even at risk to his own life?
He knows that he's right and he knows that he can prove the children to be at fault. The fact that he's the only person now capable of doing so makes him even more determined. It doesn't hurt that he's very loyal to his friends of course.
'Proctor: But if she say she is pregnant then she must be! That woman will not lie Mr Danforth.
Danforth: She will not?
Proctor: Never, sir, never.' (p74)
This is a huge case of foreshadowing. 'Never' is a very strong word and Danforth is sure to take John's claim very literally. This makes it seem all but certain that she's going to be caught in a lie later. Thanks to John the effects of this will likely be devastating.
'There might also be a dragon with five legs in my house, but no one has ever seen it' (p83) What technique does this use?
John is using a wonderful metaphor to show why it's ridiculous to believe that his wife is a witch based on the evidence given.
So did flying pigs not exist in the 50s? The randomness of this quote in it's context is rather amusing.
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