What are the similarities and differences between Macbeth and John Proctor's character traits in Macbeth and The Crucible?

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The two tragic heroes are similar in that they both fall prey to their flaws: Macbeth gives into his greed and lust for power, while Proctor succumbs to his pride. The characters have opposite trajectories in their fall from grace: one rises to a high position before falling, while the other falls from high place to a low. Both characters die because of their flaws. Directions: Read each passage and answer the questions that follow it. Passage 1 (Questions 1-5): Many characters in both The Crucible and Macbeth show some admirable and less-than-admirable traits.

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Both John Proctor and Macbeth are tragic heroes in the sense that they both die because of personal flaws. Macbeth suffers in the end because of his greed and arrogance while John Proctor suffers because of his pride and secrecy. Both characters can be seen as tragic heroes in their stories, but the audience perceives them in converse ways. Macbeth starts as an upstanding character and descends into villainy while John Proctor begins with a questionable reputation and establishes himself as a martyr by the end of the play.

John Proctor's death is tragic because he is responsible for it despite the turn-around of his character. John had an affair with Abigail Williams, the chief accuser in the play, and that causes his wife to be targeted by the court. John is a proud man and does not wish to tell anyone about his infidelity lest is sully his name. It is his pride in his reputation that eventually leads to his downfall because he is not willing to sign a paper that he knows is a lie:

PROCTOR [with a cry of his whole soul]: Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! (act 4, scene 1)

It is because of John's concern for his reputation that Elizabeth lies to the court. Instead of saving his reputation, like she thinks he wants, he was willing to sacrifice it to save the lives of everyone else. While John makes amends for his earlier pride and cowardice by admitting to his adultery, it is his previous pride that brings about his downfall—because his wife respects him and his reputation, she doesn't admit to his affair.

Macbeth is similar in how his downfall was self-inflicted. Macbeth starts the play with a promotion in nobility and a commendation for being a good commander, but he gives in to greed and arrogance. He is told of a prophecy that he will sit on the throne, and he commits terrible crimes to make it happen. While he has some doubts and nearly backs out of the plan, it at the urging of his wife that he moves from hero to villain, completing the fall from grace that is typical in the story of a tragic hero.

While the two men have inverse trajectories in their individual stories—one going from a high place to a low and the other going from low to high—they both suffer at the hands of their flaws.

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Both Macbeth and John Proctor are tragic heroes; however, Macbeth begins the play as a good man, ending it badly, and Proctor begins The Crucible as a troubled sinner, ending it as a redeemed man with a renewed sense of his own integrity.  In other words, then, in some ways they seem to have opposite trajectories. 

Initially, Macbeth is described as "brave" and is granted a new title by the king as a reward for his loyalty and courage.  His wife says that he is "full o' th' milk of human kindness" and believes that he is too good a man to even consider doing something unethical.  However, as the play progresses, Macbeth becomes worse and worse: first killing his king and kinsman, Duncan (though at least he felt guilty about that one), then arranging for the murder of his best friend, Banquo, and the attempted murder of Banquo's son (for which he only regretted the endeavor's half-success), and then the murder of an innocent woman and her children (done because he regretted not having killed Macduff when he had the chance).  His morality is in tatters by the play's end, and he realizes that he's done all for naught when he claims that life is a "tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing" (5.5.29-31). 

John Proctor, on the other hand, begins the play feeling like a "fraud" because of his extramarital affair with Abigail Williams some seven months prior.  In fact, almost until the very end, he feels that he is "no good man" and that his "honesty is broke [...]."  He does not believe that he has anything good inside him until he realizes that he is unwilling to sign his name to a dishonest confession and allow it to be published to the village.  When he tears the paper, he says, "You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor."  He ends the play with a sense of his own goodness, having been redeemed by his inability to confess a lie.  He dies a man of integrity, unlike Macbeth, who has completely lost all goodness that was once within him.

In the end, both characters are capable of goodness; they simply make different choices -- one to cultivate goodness and the other to destroy it.

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Each of these men is arguably involved in a process of self-questioning. The nature of identity and self-hood are both explored in these texts through these characters.

I agree with litteacher8 in that Proctor is a more noble character than Macbeth. Proctor discovers the truth of himself and finds strength. Macbeth realizes too late that he has given up his power of decision and whatever strength he has left has to be put into a losing battle. 

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I find very few redeeming qualities in Macbeth, whereas I think John Proctor is basically a good person.  He acts as he does because of the society he lives in.  Macbeth was greedy and bloodthirsty.  He did not repent either, as Proctor did.

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