How does John Proctor represent individual freedom while the Salem Court and the Puritan theocracy represent repression of individual freedom?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

I think that the extensive stage directions that Miller provides at the start of Act I will help in this analysis.  The theocratic tradition of Salem was one in which individual subjugation of personal expression was something embedded in the social order.  While this might work for the most part, Proctor was able to understand how this could be manipulated by those in the position of power who simply used the subjugation of personal voice to advance their own personal agendas.  Proctor's spirit of individual freedom is not something immediately recognized.  Yet, it is something that Miller understands must exist at the basis of the drama's evolution.  As the play advances, so does Proctor's individual freedom.  His opposition and his voice of dissent represents how individual freedom is essentially unable to be fully repressed.  Salem, as a social order, and those in the position of power that wish to silence cannot entirely shut down the individual freedom that individuals like Proctor and Giles Corey represents.  In this, Miller is able to assert that individual freedom, regardless of consequence, can be voiced and activated.  Individuals are able to speak out against the repressive ends of social and political orders, provided they are able to link freedom to the concept of one's "name" and sense of dignity.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question