Proctor's Decisions Develop Theme

Jane Doe & John Dough

Theme: The only way you will make a difference in the world is by maintaining your good reputation.

Proctor always sought to maintain his reputation as an honest, upright man, so even though he loses his reputation at some point, he is also able to regain it at the end of The Crucible. At the beginning of the play, the audience learns that Proctor has had an affair with Abigail Williams, but has also ended it. He tells Abigail when they meet in Act One that he will "cut off my hand before I'll ever read for you again" (Miller 23). He knows that sleeping with Abigail goes against every rule of decency and moral living in the Puritan religion; furthermore, the only way to clear his conscience is through the Puritan way of public confession. One can argue that Proctor wants to protect his family from malicious gossip and harmful words that would result from such a confession, so Proctor chooses to end the affair before it begins. Proctor also has many friends in the community, as is well-respected, making it clear that this man has spent his life living the good Puritan life, and performing good deeds. In the 1996 film, Rebecca Nurse looks to Proctor for assistance as they discuss the cause of the girls' strange sickness at the beginning (The Crucible)....
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Proctor's reputation is put into danger in Act Three, when in a moment of desperation, he confesses his adulterous affair with Abigail in a last-ditch effort to save his wife Elizabeth. His reputation is put on the line in front of people he loathes most, namely Reverend Parris and Mr. Putnam. (etc)...

Works Cited

The Crucible. Dir. Nicholas Hytner. Perf. Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. 20th Century Fox, 1996. DVD.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts. New York: Penguin, 1982. Print.