According to the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, his definition of a tragic hero is a man of noble stature. “He’s not an ordinary man, but a man with outstanding quality and greatness about him. His own destruction is for a greater cause or principle”(Aristotle). In Arthur Miller’s story, The Crucible, it’s considered a tragedy for its saddening content involving accusation of former friends, revelation of the truth, and the internal struggle behind the main characters. John Proctor is considered the tragic hero as he has many positive traits about him, such as his noble characteristics and his honorable qualities.
The righteous nature of John Proctor is to always seek the truth and denounce those who abuse their given powers is none more evident as he exposes the corruption that existed in Salem. Proctor exposes that the girls were only acting as if they were possessed by the devil and witchcraft. It’s already known that Proctor is an exceedingly intelligent and righteous individual. Unlike many people in Salem, Proctor doesn’t see the value of the Church’s authoritarianism within the town of Salem. Proctor certainly doesn’t shy from the fact that he fails to see a very small quantity of religious value within Reverend Parris, “I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of God in that man. I’ll not conceal it”(Proctor 856).
Proctor has doubts about even his own judgment of his morality. His affair with Abigail Williams is the only major flaw attributing to his otherwise righteous character. Abigail Williams intents on destroying Elizabeth Proctor, accusing her of witchcraft; however, John Proctor intents on protecting his wife’s name no matter the cost. “My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me”(Proctor 862)!
His nobility also played a vital role in his downfall. His pride wouldn’t allow him to ruin his reputation in the village and therefore allowed Abigail to continue in her plan in seeking the love of Proctor. His pride was also what caused the problem in the first place and this led to his eventual tragic downfall. He believed that he was untouchable, that he could have an affair, but as long as he apologized afterwards, that everything would be all right again. However, as the play unfolded he soon found out that his life with Elizabeth and his life in the village would never be the same again as a result of his foolish actions. Although he tried to lessen the damage as a result of his actions, even if that meant he would sacrifice his own life for the life of his loved one, “My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothing’s spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before”(Proctor 883).
In many ways Proctor is the tragic hero for although he was not born into a noble family, he however has all the characteristics of a noble gentlemen and although he also
has an aspect of arrogance about his personality which gradually disappears towards the end of the play, although not completely. Proctor also has a fatal flaw, experiences sudden changes, and in the end falls and is destroyed by being hung as a witch. Proctor stood up to authority, went against the trend, and stood up to what he believed in, and at the end of the play, there is a great catharsis. Proctor is a tragic hero because order has been restored at the end of the play, but tragically only as the result of Proctors death.