Who is John Proctor in The Crucible?

Quick answer:

John Proctor is a central character in the play. He's a man who has had an affair with Abigail, and he knows that she is behind the witchcraft accusations. Throughout the play, he struggles with moral issues: he wants to be honest but not ruin his reputation. By the end of the play, however, John Proctor realizes that honesty and integrity are more important than reputation and honor: "death is preferable to lying," he says.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Proctor is central to the play. He was for many years an upstanding Puritan, but then he had an affair with the young Abigail. Because Abigail wants John for herself, she accuses his wife Elizabeth of witchcraft, which sets the entire Salem witchcraft hysteria in motion.

John has moral...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

struggles because of what ensues. First, he dreads admitting to the affair—even though he knows it is what motivates Abigail's witchcraft accusations—because he doesn't want his good reputation ruined. Later, however, the truth will become so important to him that he will care far less about his name: he would rather be honest in the eyes of God and have the approval of God than to lie and have the approval of men. As he grows in moral awareness, John decides that death is preferable to lying and dishonor. The whole society, as he says to Danforth, suffers when men like the two of them go along with what they know to be lies. Moreover, they will be condemned by God for what they have done:

For them that quail [fear] to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud—God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!

A flawed human, John becomes an exemplar of moral courage when he won't go along with lies and hysteria.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Proctor is the protagonist of the play The Crucible.  He is a farmer who had an affair with a servant girl named Abigail.  The servant left his house at his wife's command.  Abigail then devises a plot to try to get Proctor away from his wife.  She and other girls begin claiming they see people with the devil and they accuse a bunch of people in the town including Proctor's wife.  Proctor has to struggle with confessing his guilt to the town or losing his wife.  Enotes has a complete character analysis at the link below.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Proctor is one of the residents of Salem, but unlike almost everyone else, he does not succumb to the madness that consumed Salem, Massachusetts during the time of the Puritans.  John lives by convinction, although admittedly (and for a time, begrudingly) makes grave errors in judgment.  Still, he refuses to be railroaded into false confession in the end, and chooses death over dishonor.   

John is married to Elizabeth, herself accused as a witch, and has an affair with the malicious Abigail, instigator of the whole gruesome affair. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Proctor is an honorable character who like most humans, has indeed sinned. What's ironic in The Crucible is that the Puritan culture maginfies the power of sin.

Proctor is a good-hearted man who did have an affair, but he didn't want to hurt his wife, and he didn't want to shame his God, he had a moment of weakness and spends the rest of the play essentially fighting evil. But in that culture, forgiveness felt rare, so he endures his own shame and guilt over and over even though his sin is done.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Proctor is the main character, in my opinion, of this play.  He is, in a way, the cause of the witch trials because of the fact that he had an affair with, and then dumped, Abigail Williams, making her angry.

His struggle with his conscience is one of the biggest story lines in the play.  He is very guilty about his affair with Abigail and how it made his wife feel.  He feels he is a bad person.  At the end of the play, he dies rather than lying because he finally feels good about his morals and does not want to screw that feeling up by lying to save his life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Describe John Proctor from The Crucible.

John Proctor speaks his mind and he speaks directly. When Hale or anyone questions his integrity, he stands up for himself passionately almost to the point of sounding too defensive. Proctor does have an affair with Abigail, but he feels guilty for it and tries to make amends with Elizabeth. It is clear that the both of them intend to reconcile Proctor's misjudgment and move on in their marriage. When Proctor continues to shun Abigail, who may simply have been looking for companionship, she harbors extreme resentment. Caught in the forest, allegedly involved in black magic of some kind, Abby uses this as an opportunity to get her revenge on Elizabeth and John.

As many are accused, John and Elizabeth are as well. In the end, Proctor is honest. He admits in court that he had an affair with Abby. And near the end of the play, Proctor signs the confession that he consorted with the Devil. But he eventually tears the confession up because he wants to keep his integrity. Tearing up the confession, he also allies himself with others who also have refused to confess. Had he confessed to save his life, those who refused to confess would look more guilty to the court. This is why he says, "I have three children--how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?" (Act IV). So, in the end, he tries to set a good example and tries to protect others, at the expense of his own life. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What happens to John Proctor?

John Proctor is a tragic hero who ends up being publicly hanged at the end of the play and dies a martyr in an attempt to undermine the corrupt Salem court. In act one, the audience discovers that John has committed adultery with Abigail Williams, who is still very much attracted to and in love with him. In order to have John to herself, Abigail falsely accuses Elizabeth, John Proctor's wife, of witchcraft. After Elizabeth is falsely accused of witchcraft and arrested, John forces Mary Warren to testify that Abigail and her followers are liars. John also challenges the court by presenting Deputy Governor Danforth with a petition on the behalf of Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Martha.

After Giles Corey is arrested, John Proctor sacrifices his reputation by confessing that he has committed adultery with Abigail Williams, in an attempt to tarnish her public image and put an end to the witch trials. Tragically, Elizabeth is brought before the court to validate her husband's testimony, and she lies in order to save his reputation. Proctor is then arrested for attempting to undermine the court, and he struggles with the decision to offer a false confession or die a martyr. Proctor chooses the latter, tearing his confession in front of the court officials, and dies a martyr. He hopes that his death will incite a rebellion that will put an end to the corrupt witch trials. The play ends as John Proctor is led to the gallows with his integrity intact and a clean conscience.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What happens to John Proctor?

John Proctor engages in an illicit affair with Abigail. Abigail is Parris’s niece and served as the Proctors house servant. Elizabeth learns about the affair and fires Abigail. John ends the relationship with Abigail and seeks forgiveness from his wife. Abigail, feeling dejected, implicates Elizabeth during the witch trials through a poppet that Mary Warren had made for Elizabeth.

John tries to gather evidence to help his wife. However, the situation gets worse after John himself is implicated in the witch trials. He is arrested and tortured by the officials for his confession. He almost confesses and even makes a written confession. He is promised his life if he confesses; however, at the last minute, he grabs his confession and destroys it. By his actions, John’s fate is sealed, and he is set for execution.

Last Updated on