Examine if John Proctor is religious.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that if being religious is defined by the standards that Salem imposes, then Proctor would not be deemed as being religious.  Proctor did not attend church regularly, criticized church leadership, and, of course, could not recite the Ten Commandments on command correctly.  In addition to this, Proctor cheated on his wife.  Yet, I think that Proctor can be seen as being religious in that he is acting on an ideal that is transcendent.  As opposed to being chained to the contingent and temporal notion of spiritual identity that is dominating Salem, Proctor evolves throughout the drama in believing something more about his own sense of identity and how this is to be understood by his children.  Proctor's desire to act in honor of his name and not to succumb to the temporal notion of the good is representative of a religious notion.  It is here where Proctor becomes religious.  He lives his life and sacrifices dearly for a spiritual ideal.  It is here, in the ending, when Proctor lives for something more than himself, making his own mortal being secondary to something larger.  It is in the honoring of "his name" where Proctor demonstrates behavior that represents him being religious.