Going back to the question, “What is The Crucible within the play, and how does it bring about change or reveal the individuals true character? ” I have decided to examine John Proctor, as I believe he is a central character, and one of the most important characters in the play. As the crucible is Danforth within the play, I will examine how Danforth brings about changes in Proctor. Proctor in the play, is a good character. He is well liked; he is religious, except for one mistake.
He is the sort of person that you would ask to judge an argument, or give his opinion in a matter. In Proctors house, however, there is a cold atmosphere; Proctor has recently been discovered by his wife to be committing adultery with the maid, Abigail Williams. Proctor has ended the relationship, and begged his wife, Elizabeth, for forgiveness, but she has not yet pardoned him. This ‘cold atmosphere’ can most clearly be seen in the stage directions, “He gets up, goes to her, kisses her. She receives it.
With a certain disappointment, he returns to the table”. It is very clear what the director is trying to achieve. It is Abigail’s frustration and sexual desire for Proctor that leads to the trials. Therefore, Proctor feels some responsibility for the events which occur. Proctor’s true self begins reveal itself when he realises that the only way to prove that Abigail is lying is to confess to his sin. He confesses in Act Three, “It is a whore! ” When he is asked to prove it he says “I have known her sir, I have know her”
This is a crucial point in the play as it is where he forgets about his pride and his name, and does the right thing. However, this fails when Elizabeth is called in to testify, as she lies about what happened in order to save Proctor’s name. This is still a crucial point as it is the first time that Elizabeth forgives him. Later on, in Act Four, when Proctor is to be hung, he decides to give up his pride and confess to what he hasn’t done to save his life. He confesses, but he is ashamed of himself as all the other prisoners haven’t confessed.
However, once he has signed the paper, and Danforth reaches forward to take it, Proctor takes it, saying: “No. No. I have signed it. You have seen me. It is done. You have no need for this. I have confessed to God and God has seen my name on this! It is enough! ” This tells us that though he has confessed in order to have his life, he still cares about his name. When they ask him why he wants the sheet to not be nailed to church, he exclaims: “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!
Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” At this point, he has revealed his true character, a brave man, who will not sell his friends out, who believes that by signing the sheet he is not worth “the dust on the feet of them that hang”. At the end of the play, he decides that he would rather hang, than “sign himself to lies”. The second character whom I wish to examine is Judge Danforth.
I think that he is a very interesting character, as he more of a “device”, than a true character. We know nothing of his history, except that he is a “good” judge, and he has no private life within the play. However, he is a “catalyst” within the play, his actions influence the play greatly, and he is central in every turn within the play. He is the “Crucible” within the play. The most valuable thing to him in his life is his reputation. He seems to not be capable of thinking outside the box; he follows rules to the book and does not stray from the laws.
Strict adherence to the law seems one of his most important values. He believes that you are either with the court, or against it, and those who are against it are with the devil, “But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. ” He is convinced that the children are speaking the truth, and that god is with them, “Do you know, Mr. Proctor, that the entire contention of the state in these trials is that the voice of Heaven is speaking through the children? ”
At the end of the play, he gives the impression that he knows that the children are lying, but will not admit it as it would undermine him, therefore he goes ahead with the hanging regardless, “Now hear me and beguile yourselves no more. I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement. Them that will not confess will hang. Twelve are already executed; the names these seven are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning. ” In conclusion, I believe that the crucible, or Judge Danforth, does indeed bring about change in characters, and does reveal individuals in the play true selves.