How is John Proctor, in a manner, to blame for the witch trials?i need 3 examples

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Proctor is a man whose sinful actions act as the impetus for Abigail's accusations. Indirectly, then, he is partly to blame for the events that follow.

While Abigail worked for Goody Proctor, she engaged in sexual acts with John Proctor. Having enjoyed this relationship, Abigail wants this liaison to continue. But, since Elizabeth Proctor has discharged her, Abigail cannot seem to lure John's attention. Realizing that John Proctor does not wish to leave his wife, and her society will not permit divorce, anyway, Abigail determines that the only way to win Proctor is for Elizabeth to die. So, she has Tituba cast a spell on Elizabeth, and, as Betty accuses her, she "drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife!" Thus, the girls' night in the forest which starts the accusations of witchcraft is prompted by Abigail's motives. These motives come from her desire for John Proctor, so he is indirectly responsible for the resulting trials.

Further, Proctor is responsible for some of the actions of the trial because he has contributed to the disillusionment of Abigail and caused her to become somewhat cynical about Salem's society. Proctor's rejection of Abigail underscores the old proverb, "Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned." It is because of these feelings that Abigail, despite having practiced witchcraft herself, cleverly takes advantage of the witch trials, using them for her own gain by removing Elizabeth Proctor and avenging herself against Proctor.

Thus, Proctor's reluctance to confess his sins and ruin his good name contributes to the strength of the witch trials because if he were to reveal his relationship with Abigail and her motives and the truth were known, she could cast no aspersions upon anyone, and her accusations would have no credibility.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While John Proctor is not directly to blame for the witch trials, he makes some questionable decisions that advance the hysteria throughout the community.

1. When Proctor initially visits Reverend Parris's home, Abigail tells him in confidence that she and the girls were simply playing in the forest and were frightened when her uncle appeared. Instead of immediately telling Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale that the girls were not involved in witchcraft, John Proctor keeps quiet and does not disclose Abigail's secret.

2. In Act Two, Proctor makes some derogatory remarks about the court and even rips up the official warrant. In Act Three, Deputy Governor Danforth and Judge Hawthorne have a negative perception of John when he argues the validity of Abigail's testimony. Proctor also hesitates to admit his infidelity, which would have ruined Abigail's reputation. Instead, the community reveres Abigail, and by the time Proctor reveals their affair, it is too late.

3. In Act Four, Proctor falsely confesses to being involved in witchcraft, which only supports the corrupted court. He even signs his confession in front of the court officials. Fortunately, Proctor redeems himself by tearing his confession and dying as a martyr.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the first answer states, I don't think that you can argue logically from Miller's play that John Proctor is responsible for the witch trials. Miller makes it quite clear that religious hypocrisy, obsession with power, and greed for land are to blame for the trials.

That being said, in addition to the first post's points, you could argue that John's pride--demonstrated by his unwillingness to expose Abigail when she first tells him that the girls were faking or his refusal to listen to his wife because he is bitter toward her--causes the trials to escalate.

One more point, if John had not establish a rather ungodly reputation (in the Puritans' eyes) by working on Sundays and not attending church regularly, he might have carried more veracity in the community early on when he speaks out against bringing Hale to town.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not at all sure I agree with the statement, but here's how I would answer it if I had to.

First, he causes the trials by having an affair with Abigail.  It is partly her anger at Elizabeth Proctor (and maybe at John) that causes her to start lashing out.

Second, he probably helps make Hale suspicious by the ways in which he answers the questions that Hale asks when he visits the Proctors.  Hale probably believes that it is important that Proctor doesn't know all ten commandments.

Finally, you could say he made the authorities even more suspicious because of how he behaves when they come to arrest Elizabeth.

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The Crucible

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