The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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How does John Proctor represent integrity in The Crucible?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John Proctor can be said to possess integrity for a number of reasons.

First, we see that in act one, though he still has some feelings for Abigail—the young woman with whom he'd had an affair, despite the fact that he is married—he will no longer allow himself to indulge those feelings. He says that he "may have looked up" at her window and that he "may think of [her] softly from time to time," but he vows that he will "cut off [his] hand" before he ever reaches out to touch her in that way again. In other words, he knows what is right, and he is trying his best to do it, at whatever personal cost.

Second, in act two, we hear John say that he had "confessed" his affair to his wife, Elizabeth, when she first "told [him of her] suspicion" that he was cheating on her with Abigail. He could have denied it or he could have lied to her to cover it up, but he did not. Evidently, he confessed, "like a Christian," he says. This shows his integrity as well because he could have "roared [her]...

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rainyafternoon | Student

At the end of the play, he sacrifices his good name, everything that he stands for, to tell the truth. He would rather be hung than succumb to the lies of the court. 

It is only after the emotional carthasis he goes through that we see this coming to light. In Act 1 & 2, he doesn't represent integrity because he is concerned of his good name. The pride he has prevents him from directly confessing. Only after he witnesses the willpower of other characters- Rebecca Nurse, for example- who refuse bend to the court- does he have this integrity. 

Procter is a symbol of integrity. Integrity does take a while to cultivate. It is only when you establish what is important to you, or when you witness other instances of powerful integrity (Rebecca Nurse) - that's when for most people integrity burns through. And it does for Proctor. He was a little hesitant at first, wanting to cover up his good name, but he came through at the end. He saw "some shred of goodness in Procter now. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs". 

Thats the idea of integrity, a universal theme, that Proctor embodies. 

 

Hope it helps; this was just some ideas I had.