What is John Proctor's inner conflict in The Crucible?

The two main inner conflicts John faces in The Crucible are whether he should publicize his past affair with Abigail and, later, whether he should sign a false confession of witchcraft to save his life. As he grapples with these inner conflicts, John is torn between his desire to do what is morally right and his desire to preserve his good reputation.

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John Proctor experiences several internal conflicts throughout the play. John's primary internal conflict concerns whether or not he should jeopardize his good name and public reputation to undermine Abigail Williams. Adultery is a serious transgression in Salem's Puritan society. So while John revealing his affair with Abigail will cast doubt on character (and, by extension, her accusations of witchcraft), it will undoubtedly also tarnish his own reputation. While Abigail continues to falsely accuse innocent civilians to bolster her social status and exercise her authority, John experiences deep internal conflict regarding whether or not to undermine her influence by exposing the truth.

Another internal conflict John faces concerns his decision to sign a false confession to save his life. In act 4, Elizabeth visits John in his cell and tells him she supports any decision he makes. In his heart, John knows signing a false confession will doom Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey, as well as further legitimize and prolong the witch trials. However, John also realizes the only way to save his life is to concede and sign the confession.

Initially, Proctor acknowledges he is a fraud and a sinner but he reluctantly signs the confession to save himself. When he learns that his confession will be publicly posted, however, he hesitates instead of handing the signed confession to Deputy Governor Danforth. As the suspense rises, Proctor thinks about his children and legacy and decides to defy the court by sacrificing his life. In the end, Proctor becomes a martyr and dies. Shortly after his death, the corruption of the trials is exposed and Abigail flees Salem.

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John Proctor's undoubtedly a good man. But he's also a deeply flawed man, and he finds it difficult to reconcile these two conflicting aspects of his personality. Though he loves his wife Elizabeth, he cheated on her with Abigail Williams, showing that, for all his goodness, he nonetheless has his moral weaknesses.

In due course, this dual aspect of John's personality will generate a considerable inner conflict. As Abigail embarks upon her reign of terror in Salem, striking fear into the hearts of everyone with her false accusations of witchcraft, John knows that he must do something to stop her. He must come forward and expose her for the liar and fantasist that she is.

But in doing this, John knows that he'll be putting his own reputation at risk, revealing to the whole town that he had an adulterous liaison with Abigail. John's very protective of his good name; the last thing he wants is for it to be dragged through the mud like this. And so it's not surprising that he's reluctant to come forward.

Even when he does eventually come forward, it's still not enough to break Abigail's vice-like grip on the community. When he himself is accused of being a witch, John must decide between saving his own life and preserving his integrity. In the end, he sacrifices his life to do the right thing.

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John Proctor's internal conflict throughout the play concerns his decision to reveal his infidelity in order to undermine Abigail's psychological hold on the court and community. In the austere community of Salem, one's reputation is everything. John Proctor has a good reputation as a morally upright, successful farmer who is held in high regard by his neighbors. When Abigail Williams begins falsely accusing innocent citizens of witchcraft, Proctor understands that she is simply lying to the court officials and community. Instead of immediately attempting to silence Abigail, Proctor hesitates to get involved until his wife is arrested. Proctor struggles with the decision to ruin his good reputation throughout the community but eventually travels to Salem and admits that he had an affair with Abigail. Unfortunately, Proctor's wife lies to the court officials in an attempt to protect her husband's reputation, which ironically dooms him.

While in Salem's jail, Proctor experiences another internal conflict. Proctor struggles with his decision to either falsely confess to witchcraft in order to save his life or remain obstinate in order to prove the court is corrupted. Valiantly, Proctor makes the difficult decision to tear up his confession and die in front of the community.

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In the play The Crucible, John Proctor faces several inner conflicts. Proctor's internal turmoil is created by the actual events of the story, but much of the play's drama springs directly from Proctor's moral anguish and in his conflicted spiritual state:

...a central theme of the play is certainly Proctor’s search for his soul.

The most important conflict for Proctor, in the end, is the choice between life and death. This choice is identical to his choice between maintaining his integrity or succumbing to the prosecution and offering a confession that would damn the others who were accused of witchcraft. 

If Proctor chooses to falsely (and publically) confess to witchcraft, he will be allowed to live and to see his children grow up. If he chooses not to confess, placing his moral integrity above the value of his own life, he will be put to death. 

He makes the choice that costs him his life but restores his soul.

The moment of this decision is the climax of the play. 

Proctor's other inner conflicts relate to Abby and Elizabeth as he must decide how to deal with each of them. His feelings for both of them have led him to a state of conflict, though during the play this conflict is largely one of self-restraint wherein Proctor is challenged to determine how much patience he must have with Elizabeth and whether or not he can publically admit to his affair with Abigail

These are significant conflicts in the play, but they are not as central as the final decision that will determine Proctor's ultimate moral standing. 

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