(see teachit pdf for list)
7 and 8 John Proctor (tragic) hero?
He has the reputation in the village as a hard worker and no fool, who doesn’t involve himself in the petty jealousies of the other inhabitants but who is forthright, straight and respected for his own sense. He has no patience with Putnam and his faction but looks after Giles who he knows for a simple but not mean man. In the stage notes he is described as having a sharp and biting way with hypocrites. His smallholding is five miles out of town and therefore quite isolated. He doesn’t go to church much and Rev Parris certainly knows of his mistrust.
He has let himself and his wife down through his affair with Abigail – as a result he feels great guilt and as if treading on egg-shells around Elizabeth; adds salt to the stew… is stilted in conversation with her.
He dares not tell her he met Abigail alone, he is angered by her automatic judgment of him
He cannot even recite all the Ten Commandments lest it reopen her wound: when [delicately] reminded of the adultery commandment, the stage directions tell us [as though a secret arrow had pained his heart] emphasising just how near the surface lies his guilt.
But when the crunch comes he goes to the court to admit everything even though he will be quite shamed and his enemies will dance!…
Ultimately he is like a reed or willow, bowed but unbroken by the storm of events in Salem, purified in the heat of the Crucible of the troubles. On the verge of confessing he agonises that he is not worthy to hang with some of the good souls who have already hanged. He cannot face Rebecca’s forgiveness which is worse than her condemnation. Finally he rediscovers his goodness and his sense of worth. ‘…there’s your first marvel… for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor.‘ As Elizabeth says at the end when both Parris and Hale are begging her to change his mind, ‘He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him.’
- Characters who change – choose from e.g. Hale / John Proctor / Elizabeth Proctor / Mary Warren / Giles
And characters who don’t change e.g. Rev Parris / Thomas Putnam / Abigail / Judges Danforth and Hathorne.
Miller is very keen to allow us to see that Hale was a good but ultimately flawed and misguided man. In the notes he describes Hale as an ‘eager eyed intellectual’ to whom this was a ‘beloved errand‘ and who felt the ‘pride of the specialist‘. He has spent a good deal of time on the subject of witchcraft and considers himself an expert. He is even shown to be no idiot or deluded man who sees witches everywhere having already discovered one such accused to be just a ‘pest‘ under his scrutiny. However he never doubted that there were such things as witches and as Miller writes he is sure ‘We cannot look to superstition in this. The devil is
precise.’ Of course it is Salem that becomes the Crucible for his beliefs too as he is tested and begins to doubt some his core fundamental beliefs causing much agony of his soul.
(make sure you also read the notes on pages 37-40 He has a reputation for being a ‘sensible man’ even John Proctor has heard of him.)
Look for differences in the way Hale is portrayed, how he acts and what he says following his introduction to the play compared to as events develop and the judges come into town.
Some useful quotations:
Hale of Rebecca Nurse ‘God forbid such a one be charged.’ Shows his naïveté
Hale’s arrogance: affronted at Proctor’s justification at not attending church but praying in his own house ‘your house is not a church’ and when told by Proctor that Abigail herself had told him it was ‘naught to do with witchcraft ‘ he arrogantly proclaims ‘Mister, I have myself examined Tituba… They have confessed it.‘ Now it is Proctor’s turn to make him doubt himself ‘…if they must hang for denying it? There are them that will swear to anything before they’ll hang; have you never thought of that?‘ his faltering answer reveals his [own suspicion] though at this stage he dares not examine it too closely.
Look also at the whole of Act 4 but in particular his dealings with John and Elizabeth and his speech on p 115. He has become increasingly desperate. He has tried to persuade the judges of the damage they have done to the town; and failed. Now his last ditch effort to get Eliz to persuade John to confess ‘for if he is taken I count myself his murderer.’