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Usually, in tragedies, the central character, although defeated, has gained a clearer...

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lisabm | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 2, 2007 at 8:22 AM via web

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Usually, in tragedies, the central character, although defeated, has gained a clearer vision. Has John Proctor? What about Elizabeth Proctor?

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cmcqueeney | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 2, 2007 at 8:35 AM (Answer #1)

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John and Elizabeth Proctor both gain a clearer vision in this drama. Elizabeth Proctor finally comes to a point where she sees herself in a new light - she recognizes that she was not the loving wife she could have been for John.  She also realizes that her husband, although he made a difficult error by commiting adultery, is a man of integrity and character.  She recognizes in the end that John has found his goodness, and she realizes it is not her place to take it from him.

John Proctor gains a clearer vision as well as he goes through the process of forgiving himself.  At the climax moment of the play, he wrestles with himself about whether or not to confess to the false claim of witchcraft.  Finally, by choosing honesty, and the consequence of death, he sees his own character, integrity, and worth - he realizes these qualities are above his present situation, the people around him, and even his own mortality.  He finally sees his own goodness, and is able to let go of the guilt that has controlled him throughout the play. 

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 2, 2007 at 8:43 AM (Answer #2)

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Elizabeth too gains a clearer vision of both her husband, of Salem, and of the world.  She is hurt by John's infidelity and understandably lashes out at him.  In Act Two, she realizes she has been too trusting, if a bit disingenous:  "I do not judge you.  The magistrate that sits in your heart judges you.  I never though you but a good man, John -- with a smile -- though somewhat bewildered."

By the final act, Elizabeth realizes that her love, as well as John and her own true blamelessness, is no salvation. But she has gained a true vision of herself and her relationship with her husband.  She regrets her own failings, confessing to John:  "John, I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honset love could come to me!  Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should say my love.  It were a cold house I kept."

This "confession" shows just how much Elizabeth has grown and makes her a round, rather than a static, character. 

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