tizen Vs. Good PersoThe Crucible: John Proctor and John Hale – Good Citizen vs. Good PersonIn The Crucible, Arthur Miller portrays the two main characters, JohnProctor and Reverend John Hale as “good men”. The term “good men” in this playis ambiguous. Reverend John Hale was a good man in the sense of being theperfect and good citizen of Massachusetts in the 1600’s. He was pious, adherentto the laws and beliefs, and a good Puritan Christian. John Proctor, on thecontrary would not be considered the greatest citizen.
He was not so religious,nor the perfect Christian, and was not so adherent to the Puritan’s laws andbeliefs. However, he was still considered a “good man”, as a person rather thanbeing an ideal Puritan citizen. He was very honest, moral, loyal to his friendsand family, and was generous. The major difference between the two are goodcitizen vs. good person.
The most important trait to prove that John Proctor was a good personwas his honesty.
In every scene in the play that John Proctor is in, hiscommendable honesty stands out. It didn’t matter how much trouble he wouldbring himself into, his philosophy was “I may speak my heart” (Miller, p.30).
Proctor’s honesty eventually lead to his downfall and death.
The first incident in the play where we see Proctor’s honesty is afterthe affair he had with Abigail. He realized his mistake and was honest andadmitted it to his wife Elizabeth. In the next situation where Proctor isinvolved he tells the Reverend Parris why he does not like him, and it also getshim into trouble. He tells him, “Can you speak one minute without we land inhell again, I’m sick of hell! (p. 30). He is honest, yet disrespectful to hisreverend. While in court, John Proctor is too honest to the judges. He admitshis guilt of not being a religious Christian and says ” I have once or twiceplowed on Sunday” (p.91) and he also admits not going to church every Sunday. Healso admits that he committed adultery and had an affair with Abigail. His mostcommendable moment of honesty was when he was on death row and would rather diethan confess and lie.
Proctor’s morality, and loyalty also contribute to being a good person.
When the marshals Herrick and Cheever came to arrest his wife, he stuck with herto protect her, even though she was accused of being a witch. He is bold byripping up the warrant, and risked getting arrested to help her. He is strict tothe officer of law and tells him “you’ll leave her out of sight and out of mind,mister!” (p.74). He publicly curses the deputy governor, “Damn the deputygovernor! Out of my house!” (p.77) He makes a sacrifice to help his familyrather than help himself.
Proctor was a good man, though not such a good Puritan Christian. He didnot go to church every Sunday, and broke the Sabbath by plowing. He violated oneof the ten commandments by committing adultery. “He is a sinner against themoral fashion of time” (p. 20), states the narrator of this play. Nor did hebelieve in all the Puritan beliefs and laws. He didn’t believe that witchcraftwas invading the community, “I have wondered if there be witches in the world -although I cannot believe they come among us now” (p.69). This is consideredheresy towards the beliefs of the Puritan religious authority, and the ReverendHale points that out to Proctor. Proctor did not have faith in the court systemand clearly disregarded the official court warrant.
John Hale was a good citizen. He was a very pious Puritan, by the factthat he became a reverend. Also, he was shocked by the fact that someone misseda day of church, and could plow on Sabbath becaue he believed “a Christian onSabbath Day must be in Church!” (p. 51) . He is an expert in the fieldwitchcraft, therefore believing in the existence of witches, as the Puritans did,and says that “we shall find him out if he has come among us, and I mean tocrush him utterly if he has shown his face” (p. 39). Hale does believe that thedevil has come and that he has the power and knowledge to crush him. He isshocked to find out that Elizabeth does not believe that witches exist. Hale hasfaith and believes in the court system. When Francis was complaining that hiswife was arrested and she is not a witch, since Hale had faith in the court toldhim, “Let you rest upon the justice of the court; the court will send her home,I know it” (p.71) , when in fact the court did not find her innocent. BecauseHale was a good Puritan, he could not believe that the court was unjust.
The definition of what a good Puritan should be is defined by thecharacteristics of Reverend John Hale. A good person has the characteristics ofJohn Proctor. Both were good in their own ways. Proctor was not considered sucha good man in the Puritan society though- he was hated by many in his community,and sentenced to death by them. Hale on the other hand is not such a moralperson, more of a moral failure. His pride and meddling into the lives ofeveryone lead to almost everyone’s downfall. He thinks that he is so smart andcan solve all the witch problems. He causes Abigail and the girls to blurt outthe witches, which causes the whole mess with the Proctors getting in troublewith the law. He gets Rebecca Nurse in trouble by taking Francis’s suspicions ofreading books into account. He causes many false witches in the community todie, causing them and their husbands their downfall. His downfall is losing therespect and being hated by almost everyone in the community.
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