Arthur Miller's play The Crucible develops characters that portray problems with their identities. This inner struggle is clearly seen in the main character John Proctor. He is the man Miller has chosen to struggle with 'the dilemma of men, fallible, subject to pride, but forced to choose between the 'negative good'; of truth and morality, and the 'positive good'; of human life.' ; (Internet, Arthur Miller Home Page) In order for this character to develop, Miller had to create Proctors wife, Elizabeth. She would be the catalyst in making John Proctor deal with his inherent identity dilemma. With out her, Proctor would not be a central character, and would have never needed to deal with the inner morality of himself. Elizabeth Proctor makes her husband John the main character in The Crucible.
In the character introduction we are told 'He (John Proctor) was powerful of body, even tempered, and not easily led. The steady manner he displays does not spring from an untroubled soul. He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct. Proctor, has come to regard himself as a fraud.' ; (2036) It is known in the play that John Proctor had an affair with Abigail, the accuser. Elizabeth knew all along that this was the case, and was very resentful towards John.
But, she forgave him and took the blame on herself, that she was the cause because she was sick. 'Your Honor, I - in that time I were sick. And I - My husband is a good and righteous man. He is never drunk as some are, nor wastin' his time at the shovelboard, but always at his work. But in my sickness - you see, sir, I were a long time sick after my last baby, and I thought I saw my husband somewhat turning from me. And this girl -- .' ; Therefor, Elizabeth is known to be an upstanding Christian citizen.
She has never lied, and never would. We get the impression from the text that she says her prayers, and her commandments regularly. She knew all ten of them. She was the strong one in their relationship. She exclaims to the visiting priest, 'There be no mark upon my life, Mr. Hale.
I am a covenanted Christian woman.' ; (2060) Her husband even says, 'In her life, sir, she have never lied. There are them that cannot sing, and them that cannot weep - my wife cannot lie. I have paid much to learn it, sir.' ; (2082) So we know from the start the Goody Proctor is a God fearing woman that would never lie. Elizabeth would never lie, and Arthur Miller created her this way so that when her husband admitted he knew information about Abigail, she had to make him tell his secret to the Judges. As Mr. Hale is leaving the Proctor home, Elizabeth creates a situation where John is forced to tell what he knows.
As Mr. Hale starts out the door Elizabeth, with a note of desperation says, 'I think you must tell him, John. Will you tell him?' ; (2060) This passage is the first time we really see John Proctor struggling with his identity. He is pulled between his wife's honesty and Abigail's dishonesty. He knows he should be faithful to his wife in all ways now, so he furnishes Mr. Hale with the information.
The act of Elizabeth being accused as a witch is a defining moment for Mr. Proctor. He knows that she is not guilty and that all must be brought to justice in order for her and other innocent people in the community to be saved. Even as she is being taken away Goody Proctor is a strong character and an example to her husband as to how he should act. 'John - I think I must go with them. Mary, there is bread enough for the morning; you will bake, in the afternoon.
Help Mr. Proctor as you were his daughter - you owe me that, and much more. When the children wake, speak nothing of witchcraft - it will frighten them. Oh, John, bring me soon.' ; We can see that she has little concern for herself, but that her family comes first.
She is not concerned with how scared she is, just how frightened her children will be. Because of this emotional scene, John is forced to develop a new identity. One that is brave and strong and stands up to what he knows is right. Where before his sins were kept secret, he will now have to face the truth in order for his character to become strong. 'I will fall like an ocean on that court! Fear nothing, Elizabeth.' ; Here John is committed to tell the truth, even if it exposes his affair with Abigail. The imagery of him falling like an ocean on the court is one that makes him appear to be mighty, like the waves of the sea.
It implies that he will tell all of the truth, and drown the judges with information in order to save her life. He knows he is committed to the cause when he confronts Abigail. 'My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness (Elizabeth) will not die for me!' ; John cannot turn back now. He has been shown the strength and bravery of his wife, and will now, at any cost, because of her, save this town from lies. As we near the end of the story, John is still developing. He is required to find new information that will set his wife free.
After a long battle with the ecclesiastical court he is found guilty of witchcraft himself. After being tortured in the prison, and before he is to be hung, he is permitted to see his wife, Elizabeth. At the end, Elizabeth knows the truth. She knows people are cracking under pressure and admitting to the false deeds that are proclaimed.
She hold Rebecca in high regards because of her faithfulness to the truth. John asks about her, and the reply is, 'Not Rebecca. She is one foot in Heaven now; naught may hurt her more.' ; (2093) Here we see the admiration for Rebecca in the fact that she has not succumbed to the pressure of the court. Elizabeth sees her goodness, and is trying to tell John that he should do the same. She does want him alive, but she has worked so hard at creating an honest man, that she doesn't want him to live as a liar. 'I have been thinking I would confess to the, Elizabeth.
What say you? If I give them that?' ; And his good wife replies, 'I cannot judge you, John.' ; Goody Proctor knows that she has sinned too, and that in order for John to be saved, he must forgive himself. She makes the point that it is not her responsibility to save his soul, but that he must save himself. She then reminds him, 'Whatever you will do, it is a good man does it.' ; She wants him to be responsible for himself. She has created his identity by making him tell the truth. Now he is put to the test to whether he is indeed this new honest man that she helped develop, or the sinner, like the John Proctor at the beginning of the play. Even when John Proctor signs the paper, Elizabeth knows that this is his test.
She can not be the judge of him, only God can be. The realization of his true identity comes when he figures out that he can not keep his good name and live. When he signs the confession, he knows that it is not what a 'good man would do'; . Proctor cries with his own soul and says, 'Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dues on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name?' ; (2097) He knows now that if he dies, he can keep his good name, but if he lives, he shall loose it forever.
As the scene ends, we see John crumpling the confession paper, and being taken away by the judges. Mr. Hale tries to convince Elizabeth to plead with him one more time, and all that she says is, 'He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!' ; (2098) Goody Proctor is a strong character the whole way through. She is the strength for her husband, and he dies because of her good teachings. She knows the truths of Christianity more than Mr.
Hale himself. Her teachings are opposite as to what he preaches at the end. 'Beware, Goody Proctor - cleave to no faith when faith brings blood. It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice. Life, woman, life is God's most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess.
Let him give his lie. Quail not before God's judgment in this, for it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride. Will you plead with him?' ; And Elizabeth's reply is, 'I think that be the Devil's argument.' ; (2092) Arthur Miller definitely used Elizabeth Proctor as a catalyst for her husbands identity. He uses her as the stable force in the conflict of man.
Miller has chosen to have the answers to the 'the dilemma of men, fallible, subject to pride, but forced to choose between the 'negative good'; of truth and morality, and the 'positive good'; of human life'; be answered by Elizabeth Proctor. He used her to show that men could be infallible, not prideful and would know the right and wrong between the good of human life, and the truth of morality. To Miller, Elizabeth Proctor is the driving force in John Proctors life, and she helps develop him as the main character in the play, The Crucible.