John Proctor: The Tragic Hero.
Literature is a form of expression. It is a ground in which we consolidate a mirage of occurrences and modify them into relatable art. Some even consider it as life. But it is mostly, plausible as a didactic means of communication.
Years ago, literature was widely appreciated among a vast group of highly influential individuals and mere commoners. In it, there are three genres; drama, poetry, and prose. These three tell stories with different measures. But the most remarkable is the genre of drama.
Drama is a multidimensional form of nature. It involves actors acting roles, therein, elucidating a fictional or nonfictional character through expressions and body language with an abundance of literary devices that are in existence. The earliest forms of drama can be traced to ancient Greece “where ancient hymns, called dithyrambs, were sung in honor of a god”.
History tells us stories of remarkable dramatists, such as Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Euripides, and Wole Soyinka. Their postures in drama have shaped how the world views playwrights and their stories. Yet, some dramas evoke emotion. These steer the spirits of its audience towards sadness, joy, contempt, etc. A famous play of such is "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller.
The Crucible is a 1953 play written by American playwright Arthur Miller. The narrative stems from his ordeals of facing adversity with respect to morality and its primary aim were displayed with a didactic tone. It is a dramatized story of the "Salem Witch trial — prosecution of accused and nonexistent witches — that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1692-93".
Miller illustrates John Proctor as a silhouette of his fictional self. He endures a similar experience as the playwright, who was convicted of "Contempt of Congress" for refusing to expose the names of his acquaintances to the House of Representatives in America. Thus, Miller fueled his unjust conviction towards the production of "The Crucible" and the depiction of John Proctor.
The play envelops a merely tormented hero, John Proctor, who, in the end, finds solace in death, rather than a life with an altered reputation. In the play, Proctor is found to have had an affair with Abigail. This sin weighs him down; strains his marital relationship with Elizabeth, his wife, and trifles his relationship with God.
His doings inadvertently distresses him because of his failure to forgive himself, acknowledge his sin, and Elizabeth's refusal to forgive him. John is restless, he needs some form of escape. Unfortunately, he never found one. He upholds his honor up to the point of refusing to sign a false confession that the church wants to paste on the door.
As a man of uprightness, Proctor does not take this lightly. Consequently, he puts his life before a tarnished reputation, seeing no need to live in an enclosed space of lies. John dies for a crime he did not commit.
Aristotle, in his Organon, gives illustrates who a tragic hero is. He posits that "a man doesn't become a hero until he can see the root of his downfall." This births the idea of a character who is not described as the protagonist of a play, only, but additionally, is described as a tragic hero.
A tragic hero lets himself transfer emotions to his audience. He is a literary character that makes a judgment error and knowingly, or unknowingly causes his downfall. He must make an error of judgment (harmatia) —inciting the flaws that affect his life, experience a reversal of fortune (peripeteia), realize his error as the cause of this reversal (anagnorisis), must showcase excessive pride towards his mistakes (hubris), and finally, his fate must be greater than he deserves.
Proctor is a tragic hero in Miller's The Crucible because he has the aforementioned traits of harmatia, peripeteia, and hubris. First, Proctor's "fatal flaw was his great amount of pride, and that slowly tied a series of unfortunate events that led to his death." His error of judgment lies in his decision to commit adultery with Abigail, thereby causing him to engage in the immeasurable undertaking of defending his name.
In his pride, Proctor overlooks about his relationship with Elizabeth and God. Then, he proceeds to engage in the act of coitus with Abigail. When their relationship ends with John telling Abigail that he cannot continue their love, and his sin mustn't be known, Abigail accuses him, his wife and other family members of being a witch —this event is referred to as peripeteia, a reversal of fortune — that results in their detainment, and for some, execution.
Furthermore, by discovering his sin of adultery, Elizabeth refuses to forgive him. John, on the other hand, is furious because his wife has refused to forgive him. He also extends this irritation to himself; as a failed man who has gone astray from the word of God, because of his adulterous life. Also, John's pride centers around his honor and integrity as a human of good repute. His pride spurred his reason to accept death; he fails to sign a false confession that accuses him of witchcraft because "he cannot blacken his name."
His pride prompted him to tear it up. John does not wish to let a false accusation ruin him, he selects death instead. When asked to explain why he refused to sign the confession, John exclaims, "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!"
John Proctor's tragic death is pitiful, nonetheless, it reveals him as a nobleman. The primary aim of a tragic hero is to guarantee that emotions resonate within the audience, that is, a catharsis, which is often described as the purging of emotions. He does this when he refuses to sign the confession in the last part of the play and is sent into the gallows
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