Why is John Proctor a respectful man?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that you can make the argument that Proctor has a base for being a respectful man.  It is difficult to say that as the drama starts, he is one who embodies total respect.  His affair with Abigail is not entirely respectful to Elizabeth.  His reticence to speak out about what is happening in Salem also contributes to diluting his respectful nature.  Yet, as the drama develops, Proctor becomes a respectful man because of his desire to stand for what he sees to be right.  Proctor becomes a respectful man because of his willingness to stand up for people like Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey.  He is a respectful man in the way that he wishes to use the Salem legal system as a way to ensure that justice is pursued.  His willingness to accept the truth no matter the cost at the end of the drama is what makes him a respectful man.  His closing speech is one in which there is a deep respect for both his own sense of identity and the legacy that he as a man will leave behind.  I think that this is where Proctor shows himself to be a respectful man. He becomes one who is respectful of his own word and name, the condition of his wife and children, and one who stands for intrinsic notions of the good.  When Elizabeth comments that her husband finally has his "goodness," it is a reflection of how much respect he has gained and how much of a respectful man he has become.  It is in this trajectory where I think that Proctor can be best seen as a respectful man.