How and why does John Proctor change in The Crucible?

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writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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At the beginning of the play, John Proctor is already attempting to change. This is due to his recent affair, and desire to be a man of morality and integrity. Proctor is still very unsure of himself, though, in the beginning of the play. He knows what is right, but doesn't trust himself to do right (or be believed if he does, as in the situation of calling out Abigail for lying). The first event that causes great change in Proctor is Elizabeth's arrest. Knowing that Elizabeth is the innocent one, Proctor is incited to act on his wife's behalf. He shows his change by calling out Abigail Williams as an adulterer and liar. The second cause of Proctor's change is when he faces the gallows in Act 4. He considers signing his name to a false confession. Since he is already a sinner, he tries to convince himself it isn't really a lie. This scene shows the biggest transformation in Proctor -- he realizes that he can't sign himself to a lie and live as a man of integrity. He tears the confession and is hanged. The reason that this shows the biggest transformation is because Proctor acknowledges his ability to be a man of integrity and desire to protect his name and his family. As Elizabeth states, "he has his goodness now." Even though he dies, we still see Proctor as stronger and more noble in the end than in the beginning.