John Proctor: The Aristotelian Tragic Hero

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Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a timeless tragedy, depicting historical figures but concerning the modern world as well. John Proctor, the protagonist, though fitting several of the characteristics of the Aristotelian tragic hero, is actually a much more complex tragic hero. The primary differences between John Proctor and the classic tragic hero are obvious, such as the lack of noble birth, his not being in a position of leadership, and the inevitability of his fate. These differences are necessary, as Arthur Miller attempts to convince his audience that his protagonist is an everyman and is worth sympathizing for. In Arthur Miller’s more complex world, a more complex tragic hero is needed. Indeed, a more complex hero is needed because Arthur Miller is also telling of his own tragic struggle through John Proctor. Aristotle gives four basic characteristics of a tragic hero: nobleness of birth, a tragic flaw, the hero’s downfall, and the anagnorisis, or the realization by the protagonist that his downfall was his own doing. There are other accepted requirements as well, such as the hero suffering more than he…show more content…
This explains why Miller would choose to make John Proctor a modern hero, as opposed to the classic hero. Whereas traditional tragic heroes such as Oedipus or Hector would seem too ideal, a more American character with whom the audience can relate to better would inspire more empathy. Also, the reason that Arthur Miller chooses not to make John Proctor’s fate inevitable could be that by giving John Proctor a final chance at redemption, Miller is also trying to show the sacrifice that he made himself. Proctor’s fate is a result of his choices and his sins, but he chooses to meet his end with dignity and loyalty towards his friends, just as Miller felt he was

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