In Miller's The Crucible, discuss how John Proctor is a modernist character.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Proctor can be seen as a Modernist character in a variety of ways.  In my mind, the most primary way he can be seen in such a light is because he recognizes that there is no transcendental structure worth upholding in Salem.  Like most Modernists, Proctor comes to the realization that the "fix is in" with regards to the structure of society, government, and religion.  He recognizes that Abigail and those in the position of power are manipulating the fear of witchcraft for their own benefit.  It is because of this that he ascends a moral stature in a world that does not embrace it.  Proctor can be considered Modernist in this respect, also.  He understands quite clearly that since there is no moral or ethical structure worth upholding around him, he will have to assert this notion of identity in the world with his own actions.  Proctor embraces this aspect of his freedom and autonomy in his ability to construct moral right and wrong in a setting where such guidance is absent.  In another sense, Proctor represents Modernism in his recognition of how a change has become evident.  When Woolf writes that, "All human relations shifted" and this seismic shift impacts government, religion, politics, society, and all individuals, Proctor might be the embodiment of such a reality.  Proctor understands that Salem is rapidly changing, devolving into a setting where fear and paranoia reign supreme.  The "shift" in his own actions represents how he refuses to give his ascent to such a change and through his own voice of dissent,  he articulates resistance regardless of consequence.  This is a Modernist idea in that the voice and chords of dissent are spoken and heard to represent a fundamental disapproval for the world's "shift" in the hopes of bringing attention to it.

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The Crucible

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