In The Crucible is John Proctor a classic tragic hero?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A classic tragic hero often ends up sacrificing his life due to a situation that was the result of his own weakness.  In this most basic sense, Proctor is a tragic hero.  To pinpoint why, you must first identify the weakness that caused the trial; in John's case, it was his attraction to Abigail that resulted in an affair.  Because of their affair, Abby was enamored with John and craved to be with him.  However, John ended the affair, firmly, declaring to her even months later that "I will cut off my hand before I'll ever reach for you again."

John's weakness and resulting affair with Abigail spurred Abigail's jealousy and accusation of Elizabeth Proctor.  Abby thought she could be with John only if Elizabeth was out of the way.  And once Elizabeth was accused, John had to try to save her.  His journey to the courts to save his wife (from the consequences of his affair with Abby) ended up being fatal; the end result was his own accusation and death.

In the end, John died defending his honor; he sacrificed his life for an atonement for his sins of weakness.  So, in that sense, John Proctor is a classic tragic hero.  I hope that helps; good luck!


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