A Tragic Hero Essay Research Paper Arthur

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A Tragic Hero Essay, Research Paper Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is clearly a representation of the true meaning of tragedy. John Proctor was, in fact, the medium, the tool, of which Miller utilized to convey a universal depiction of tragedy. A broad definition of a tragic hero is a protagonist who, through faults and flaws of his own and in the society in which he exists, falters in the grand scheme of things. This mistake leads to suffering, which ultimately leads to a self-realization. Miller, himself, has said, “Tragedy, then, is the consequence of a man’s total compulsion to evaluate himself justly,” leading us to believe that a greater theme encompasses this downfall. Miller, as well as many other literary critics seem to convey that tragedy revolves around two

universal aspects: fear and freedom. The Crucible is a direct parallel to the multiple ideals of tragedy and thus centers around John Proctor’s fear and freedom while he exists as a tragic hero. The first stage in the process of establishing the tragic hero for Miller was relaying the characteristics of John Proctor. It was essential that Proctor be viewed as the so called “good guy” in the plot, one who stands out or the audience can relate to. He is described as a “farmer in his middle thirties” with a ” powerful body” and a “steady manner”, and is already being established as the protagonist in which we sympathize with.(p.19) Miller’s choice to describe him in such a fashion is very significant. By describing the tragic hero as a “strong, steady,

farmer” the dramatic effect is even greater. Who else better to fall victim to his own personal freedom and the fear of others but the strong, stern character? John Proctor’s description also provides another outlet to convey the dynamic nature of his character. While the physical side of Proctor deteriorated towards the conclusion of the story, a contrast is created. John is said to be “…another man, bearded, filthy, his eyes misty as though webs had overgrown them, ” an obvious discrepancy from his initial condtion.(p.123) Thus, John’s physical characterization is an apparent parallel to the changes he emotionally undergoes making him a intriguing character. Miller also establishes Proctor as the protagonist by giving him qualities the audience found favor with.

John went against the normalities and conceptions of the Puritan townsfolk. Proctor’s practical nature is indicated when he often does not attend Church. He does not agree with Parris’ talk of hell, exclaiming “Can you speak one minute without we land in Hell again?” and thus turns away from the Church, clearly emphasizing that rebellious side.(p.28) The second step in creating the tragic hero is emphasizing the mistake or flaw which brings upon the character’s descent. It is in this stage that fear and freedom enter as a major part of John Proctor’s actions. It is this balance between the internal and external that opens the door for fear and freedom to enter. Fear is society’s tool. In Puritan New England, paranoia was a common aspect. The people lived in fear of

the devil, a physical devil that existed and walked among them. When word spread, speaking of witchcraft in Salem, that fear, that paranoia emerged ever so imminently and thus began the tragedy. With the people’s fear came rumors. Mrs. Putnam asked, “How high did she fly, how high?” of Betty clearly exhibiting that rumors of witchcraft were surfacing and spreading.(p.12) Subsequently, from such rumors came the accusations. It was the accusations that proved most costly. People turned against each other saving themselves by accusing their neighbors. All of these consequences sprouted from fear in the hearts and minds of the people of Salem. Fear, however, only contributed to this tragedy. John Proctor’s freedom within was the other half that completes the equation. It was