The Crucible is a container in which metals and other materials are heated to separate pure metals from the impurities, this is a metaphor for the town of Salem and its citizens. John and Elizabeth Proctor are good examples of The Crucibles victims surviving and emerging as stronger people. Proctor is introduced to us with mixed opinions he is a “sinner” yet a respected man in Salem. In his presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly,” but “the steady manner he displays does not spring from “an untroubled soul”.
Proctor has a good name in Salem, but a marked conscience. His one fatal mistake was an affair with Abigail Williams.
Proctor has committed adultery with a young woman named Abby, and even though their affair is in the past it still rages in Abby’s mind, it is not allowed to rest forgotten
Abigail is a young girl, she is strong minded, vibrant, and determined. She is everything that Proctors wife lacks.
John is a man with integrity, he confessed to his wife of his dishonest relations with Abigail but couldn’t bring himself to blacken his name in Salem.
John and Abigail’s past affair is most certainly something john is ashamed of, and would prefer to forget about its existence. However Abigail and Elizabeth, his wife, are both determined to not allow him to forget his short lived moments of adultery.
Elizabeth herself does not wish to judge john by playing god, she sets an example in Salem, that you cannot begin to judge another before you have examined your own actions and she is true to herself by admitting “I have sins of my own to count.”
But Salem is operated as a theocracy, a government ruled by and subject to religious authority. In a theocracy, people’s sins are not forgiven, so that when they commit an indiscretion, they are left feeling guilty.
John being a man with great integrity, confessed to his wife of his dishonest relations with Abigail, but couldn’t bring himself to blackening his name in Salem. During a conversation between john and Abby he asks her to “wipe it put of mind and pretend they “never touched” But Abigail’s stubborn character fails to give up hope, and I believe john feels guilty for allowing her to think that a relationship between them was ever possible. Even though he never spoke about a future, Elizabeth tells him that taking Abby to his bed said more than enough, and through this he has promised her something more. John takes pity upon abby and the situation he has put her in, in their conversation on page 28 you can see the john wishes to set things straight but also doesn’t wish to hurt her. Their past relationship has made him feel for her and “think of her softly” while his marriage seems to be built of sinking foundations Abby’s young vibrant out-going personality fills the gaps of his passionless marriage. never the less he has his morals and will not hear a bad word spoken against his wife, and when Abigail turns to bitter cirtisms, his temper rises and soft tone fades. John values his name, and it takes his neighbours lives to crack his unblemished title.
Elizabeth proctor wishes to remain a good wife to john and they both want a respectable marriage, and from an outside point of view this is what your led to believe, even they would like to believe their lack of communication hasn’t made their relationship a cold one.
Throughout the book Elizabeth is loyal to her morals, she conveys words from her religion through to John without trying to influence his decisions with her opinion. Her character is an important factor throughout the book, she leads by example, a role model to the characters and the reader.
She passes words of wisdom to her husband in his darkest hours, by the end of the novel john is engulfed by guilt, and in search of forgiveness. He is given an ultimatum of life or death, in death his sins will be washed away, he will die with honour, as a martyr for what is right. but he will leave his wife a widow, and his children orphaned.
With this in mind Elizabeth selflessly advises him “Let none be your judge. There be no higher judge under heaven”.
John asks for her forgiveness, but she knows “it come to naught that I should forgive you, if you’ll not forgive yourself. Its not my soul, John, its yours.”
Elizabeth’s principles are finally received by her husband and as a final act of redemption he realises that the only way he will ever free his name from sin, is to die with his immorality. “I confess to god.” and with these words you feel a heavy weight lifted from John Proctors shoulders. John has eventually found belief in himself, ” You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of good in john proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with but white enough to keep it from such dogs.” Proctor has found inner sanctity, amongst the dishonesty, the corruption, the madness, john proctor has found god. “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!” The crucible has extracted what’s pure.