Stressed is a feeling that one can sense throughout Arthur Miller’s famous play called The Crucible. The whole town of Salem, Massachusetts, is stressed because of the frightening witchcraft, however, each character also has to deal with their own individual stress for various reasons. John Proctor is one of the characters suffering from stress because he initially refuses to admit his sin of adultery which would cause his good reputation to go down the drain. In The Crucible, through the actions of John Proctor, Arthur Miller shows how stress can cause a person to be in denial, have pride, to confess his or her sin, and to see the positive consequence of confessing the sin.
Initially, Proctor absolutely refuses to let the stress of his sin get to him. He is respected in Salem and his worst nightmare is to have his reputation be looked down upon. For example,on page 64, John Proctor says to Mr. Hale after forgetting the commandment about adultery, “I think it may be a small fault.” This shows that John Proctor may indeed have been caused to forget this commandment because of the stress caused by his sin of adultery. However, he does not want Mr. Hale to think this is a big deal. He wants to be seen as a good man. John Proctor continues to defend his good reputation when he says on page 42, “I mean to please you, Elizabeth.” He obviously is not living up to this statement in his real life, but wants the audience, readers, and Elizabeth to think that he is the man who the town thinks he is. On page 74, John Proctor displays this same idea when he says to Mary, “Do that which is good, and no harm shall come to thee.” This demonstrates that John Proctor is trying to act like he is good all the time and that he has no flaws. He is trying to give Mary advice which is ironic because he definitely has not just done good in his life. These times reveal that stress is building up on John Proctor. His pride is keeping him from confessing his sin. The stress keeps building and trouble starts to brew for John Proctor.
Next, even though John Proctor had so much pride for his name, he just could not handle the stress anymore. One place this can be seen is on page 76 when he says, “I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me!” John Proctor is actually caring about someone other than himself. He is defending his wife and starting to not care so much about his reputation. Another example of Proctor giving in is when he says on page 89, “I have rung the doom of my good name.” Proctor sees that his sin has consequences and that his reputation might take a hit because of it. He is no longer blinded by pride and obsessed with his good name. John Proctor ultimately loses his good name due to building stress when he says on page 102, ” I have known her, sir. I have known her.” It is here that the results of the stress have been revealed and that Proctor confesses his sin.
Finally, Proctor finds that confessing the sin was actually for the better. By getting his sin off his back, his life will be much happier and easier. He even learns a ton of helpful lessons. Proctor finds that he is less stressed because he knows God is there for him which is shown on page 132 when he says, “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it.” He finds God is the one who determines good versus bad people. He knows that God’s view on a person is the most important judgement and that a reputation built up by others is not necessary. On page 132, Proctor continues by proclaiming, “God knows how black my sins are!” Proctor finds peace in knowing that God has the final say. God is the only being responsible for dealing with sins. Proctor learns to trust in God. Following this, John Proctor says on page 133, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!” He is attempting to convey that he wants to live his best life because he only has one. He knows that people make mistakes but thinks that everyone deserves a second chance and to move on from past obstacles.
The effects of stress such as denial, confessing a sin, and changing for the better are clearly shown through John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s play called The Crucible. Proctor changes from being obsessed with his reputation to learning that maybe it’s not as important as he thought. The play shares the challenges that sin can bring about the havoc that can come into one’s life if he or she does not address the sin right away.
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