tizen Vs. Good PersoThe Crucible: John Proctor and John Hale – Good Citizen vs. Good Person
In The Crucible, Arthur Miller portrays the two main characters, John
Proctor and Reverend John Hale as “good men”. The term “good men” in this play
is ambiguous. Reverend John Hale was a good man in the sense of being the
perfect and good citizen of Massachusetts in the 1600’s. He was pious, adherent
to the laws and beliefs, and a good Puritan Christian. John Proctor, on the
contrary 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 and
beliefs. However, he was still considered a “good man”, as a person rather than
being an ideal Puritan citizen. He was very honest, moral, loyal to his friends
and family, and was generous. The major difference between the two are good
citizen vs. good person.
The most important trait to prove that John Proctor was a good person
was his honesty. In every scene in the play that John Proctor is in, his
commendable honesty stands out. It didn’t matter how much trouble he would
bring 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 after
the affair he had with Abigail. He realized his mistake and was honest and
admitted it to his wife Elizabeth. In the next situation where Proctor is
involved he tells the Reverend Parris why he does not like him, and it also gets
him into trouble. He tells him, “Can you speak one minute without we land in
hell again, I’m sick of hell! (p. 30). He is honest, yet disrespectful to his
reverend. While in court, John Proctor is too honest to the judges. He admits
his guilt of not being a religious Christian and says ” I have once or twice
plowed on Sunday” (p.91) and he also admits not going to church every Sunday. He
also admits that he committed adultery and had an affair with Abigail. His most
commendable moment of honesty was when he was on death row and would rather die
than 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 her
to protect her, even though she was accused of being a witch. He is bold by
ripping up the warrant, and risked getting arrested to help her. He is strict to
the 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 deputy
governor! Out of my house!” (p.77) He makes a sacrifice to help his family
rather than help himself.
Proctor was a good man, though not such a good Puritan Christian. He did
not go to church every Sunday, and broke the Sabbath by plowing. He violated one
of the ten commandments by committing adultery. “He is a sinner against the
moral fashion of time” (p. 20), states the narrator of this play. Nor did he
believe in all the Puritan beliefs and laws. He didn’t believe that witchcraft
was 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 considered
heresy towards the beliefs of the Puritan religious authority, and the Reverend
Hale points that out to Proctor. Proctor did not have faith in the court system
and clearly disregarded the official court warrant.
John Hale was a good citizen. He was a very pious Puritan, by the fact
that he became a reverend. Also, he was shocked by the fact that someone missed
a day of church, and could plow on Sabbath becaue he believed “a Christian on
Sabbath Day must be in Church!” (p. 51) . He is an expert in the field
witchcraft, 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 to
crush him utterly if he has shown his face” (p. 39). Hale does believe that the
devil has come and that he has the power and knowledge to crush him. He is
shocked to find out that Elizabeth does not believe that witches exist. Hale has
faith and believes in the court system. When Francis was complaining that his
wife was arrested and she is not a witch, since Hale had faith in the court told
him, “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. Because
Hale 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 the
characteristics of Reverend John Hale. A good person has the characteristics of
John Proctor. Both were good in their own ways. Proctor was not considered such
a 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 moral
person, more of a moral failure. His pride and meddling into the lives of
everyone lead to almost everyone’s downfall. He thinks that he is so smart and
can solve all the witch problems. He causes Abigail and the girls to blurt out
the witches, which causes the whole mess with the Proctors getting in trouble
with the law. He gets Rebecca Nurse in trouble by taking Francis’s suspicions of
reading books into account. He causes many false witches in the community to
die, causing them and their husbands their downfall. His downfall is losing the
respect and being hated by almost everyone in the community.