What are some examples of direct and indirect characterization of John Proctor in The Crucible?

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If one reads The Crucible rather than watching it, much of the direct characterization comes from Miller's stage directions. These are particularly important in John Proctor's case, since Miller says more than once that he is not what he appears: "the steady manner he displays does not spring from an...

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If one reads The Crucible rather than watching it, much of the direct characterization comes from Miller's stage directions. These are particularly important in John Proctor's case, since Miller says more than once that he is not what he appears: "the steady manner he displays does not spring from an untroubled soul." Later he adds,

Proctor, respected and even feared in Salem, has come to regard himself as a kind of fraud.

One of the principal qualities which we see through indirect characterization is Proctor's quick temper. He is angry with Mary Warren as soon as he enters, and, though he shows some patience with Abigail, he quickly turns on Elizabeth in act 2. This, admittedly, is not a clear-cut instance, for he may have been completely patient with her for the last seven months, but this does not seem consonant with what we see of his character in the following acts, or his treatment of Mary Warren and Mr. Parris in act 1. In prison, we learn from a conversation between Danforth and Herrick in act 4, he struck Herrick and had to be chained to the wall.

In his words to Abigail in act 1, his attempts to placate Elizabeth in act 2, his confession to Danforth in act 3, and his musings on martyrdom in act 4, we see the characterization of Proctor as a man who has been a hypocrite but is at least honest enough to be disgusted by his own hypocrisy, which he eventually abandons, reveals, and renounces. This reinforces Miller's direct characterization of him when he first enters.

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The periods of direct characterization in this play most typically take place when Miller speaks to us directly from the page in between those sections of dialogue that occur among the characters. For example, Miller tells us that:

Proctor, respected and even feared in Salem, came to regard himself as a kind of fraud.

We learn, directly, that Proctor is a fearsome man, and then we learn that he is someone who inspires the respect of others and perhaps even intimidates them. Nevertheless, Proctor thinks of himself as a fraud—someone who is not truly what he seems to be to others.

Indirect characterization occurs when we must read between the lines, so to speak, and infer about a character's traits or qualities from their behavior or speech (rather than being told directly, as Miller does in the quotation above). When Proctor speaks to his employee, Mary Warren, he says to her:

Be you foolish, Mary Warren? Be you deaf? I forbid you leave the house, did I not? Why shall I pay you? I am looking for you more often than my cows!

We see, here, that Proctor is rather intolerant of having his orders disobeyed and that he can be quite harsh and rough with people when he feels taken advantage of or manipulated in some way. He does not take kindly to having his authority questioned, tacitly or otherwise.

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Direct characterizations involve the author of a literary work telling the reader directly what a certain character is like, while indirect characterizations are gradual revelations of a character's personality through the character's speech, actions, appearance, thoughts, and reactions.

Upon John Proctor's first entrance in the play, Arthur Miller tells us:

Proctor was a farmer in his middle thirties. He need not have been a partisan of any faction in the town, but there is evidence to suggest that he had a sharp and biting way with hypocrites. He was the kind of man—powerful of body, even-tempered, and not easily led—who cannot refuse support to partisans without drawing their deepest resentment. In Proctor's presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly—and a Proctor is always marked for calumny therefore. But as we shall see, the steady manner he displays does not spring from an untroubled soul. He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct.

Here, we see direct characterization; we are told directly what John Proctor is like, and no inference on our part is required to know what he looks like (a powerfully built man in his thirties) and several character traits: his disposition is calm and he is stubborn ("not easily led"). We are also told directly that he is a sinner and is not proud of his mistakes.

We perhaps see indirect characterization most as the play darkens: when Hale arrives and Proctor sets down his rifle (indicating that he is willing to listen or at least show respect to the man), Proctor's sweat when Hale asks him to recite the Commandments (indicating that he is nervous and not a man as familiar with Biblical texts as he'd like to pretend), etc. This is a far more subtle way of establishing the nature and motives of a character, which is highly important in a play that ultimately is examining human suspicion, paranoia, and judgement. 

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Let's be sure to define these terms before we go on to answer the question: 

Direct Characterization: the author explains certain traits about a character directly to the reader

Indirect Characterization: the author shows the reader how the character acts during or reacts to different situations, building an understanding of the character 

In Act II, here are some examples of each type: 

DC: "I should have roared you down when you first told me your suspicion. But I wilted, and like a Christian, I confessed!" (59)

Miller has John tell the reader that he felt enough guilt over his sin (adultery) that he confessed to his wife when it would have been just as easy, if not easier, to lie and make her feel shame for suspecting him. 

IC: "[The soup is] well seasoned." (54)

John, rather than scolding Elizabeth for ill-seasoned salt, instead compliments her on soup that he actually made better. This indicates that he cares more about having a positive relationship with her than about the soup itself. 

IC: "But the proof! The proof!" (62)

Even though Mary is telling John that the court has accepted what she calls evidence as solid proof, he continues to question it. This shows that John does not blindly accept things just because he is told that they are true. 

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