The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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Explain how John Proctor's power changes throughout the play.

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The Crucible is peculiarly subtle in the way it depicts the complexity of power, so that different characters wield different types of power throughout the play. As the action begins, John Proctor is not a particularly powerful man—certainly not when compared with a high-level official such as Danforth, a wealthy magnate like Putnam, or even a figure of spiritual authority like Hale. What he does have, however, is control over his own life and destiny. This is admittedly compromised by the chill in his relations with Elizabeth, but even in this area, Proctor asserts himself in act 2 and is able to maintain a high degree of control over his own circumstances.

In acts 3 and 4, Proctor's control over his own life recedes, even as his voice in the public sphere grows more powerful. By the end of the play, he has become a powerful figure of integrity and dissent, potent enough to frighten Danforth and drive Hale to despair. At the same time, he has lost control of his personal circumstances...

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