In The Crucible, how does John Proctor overcome his suffering?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Proctor overcomes his suffering in buying into the idea that there is something larger than his own suffering at stake in the trials.  Proctor suffers greatly when he becomes so tied to salvation and redemption in the realm of the temporal.  He becomes frustrated with the court's corruption, the town's resistance to the truth, and how those who are actually impure sit in judgment over those who are.  Proctor's suffering increases when he is tied and bound to such a condition because he recognizes that he cannot overcome the inertia to a change in this state of affairs.  Yet, when Proctor recognizes in an instant that something larger than these temporal issues is at stake, he overcomes his suffering.  The stress on his "name" represents something larger being embraced.  Proctor fully understands where he is, who he is, and what he represents.  Proctor overcomes his suffering because he understands that in a world where nothing transcendent exists, ending attachment to this condition and embracing a more overarching and totalizing end can be the only answer.  Proctor's suffering comes from a lack of validation.  He suffers because he does not receive validation or authentication of his own voice.  In Act II, he does not receive it from his wife, who still doubts his fidelity and loyalty.  In Act III, he does not receive it from the court proceedings, which takes faulty evidence as valid and discards substantive evidence.  In Act IV, he does not receive it when he asks Elizabeth if he should confess or not.  In these instances, Proctor suffers because he is dependent on validation from contingent settings that fail to honor his voice.  It is only when he embraces something larger than this contingency, a force of totality and transcendent truth, does he find validation.  In this, his suffering is overcome.

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