Elizabeth Proctor: Character Traits & Analysis

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  • 0:01 Introduction to The Crucible
  • 1:21 Character Traits of…
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Sedillo

Andrew Sedillo has taught Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology at a middle school level. He currently holds a Bachelor's of Arts in Education, Master's of Arts Educational Learning Technology, and a Graduate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning.

Elizabeth Proctor is one of the central characters in Arthur Miller's play 'The Crucible.' She transforms from a puritanical stereotype into a flawed and more personable character. Learn more about Elizabeth Proctor and test your understanding through a 5-question quiz.

Introduction to 'The Crucible'

Set in 1692, The Crucible is a play written by Arthur Miller that tells a story centering around witchcraft inside a puritanical community. It's based on a real story and people who actually existed. The town of Salem is split between people who use witch trials as a means for making themselves happy and people who believe it's good for society. Elizabeth Proctor is a moral, Christian woman who is one of the main characters of the play. There are two key characters in the story who affect Elizabeth Proctor's character: the antagonist, Abigail Williams, who is Elizabeth's maid and who is having an affair with her husband, the protagonist, John Proctor.

Elizabeth believes that her life is perfect until she finds out about the affair. She fires Abigail and that is when Elizabeth's character traits begin to change through a variety of experiences. Abigail is still infatuated with John and wants Elizabeth out of the picture. At one point in the story, she sets up Elizabeth to be arrested for witchcraft. However, through this ordeal, Elizabeth and John begin showing emotions that did not exist prior to the affair. John stands up for his wife and rescues her from her fate. He does this by showing evidence that his wife does not practice witchcraft, and he admits to his affair. This unfortunately tarnishes John's good name and he is punished for witchcraft.

Character Traits of Elizabeth Proctor

Like most women during the colonial days, Elizabeth Proctor was true to her husband, family and God. This, however, led to the downfall of what she held closest to her: reputation and marriage. At the beginning of the story, she and her husband, John Proctor, were known as the best judges of character, hypocrisy and sin. As the plot unfolds, she and her family become resounding examples of their judgments. This occurs when Elizabeth finds out that her husband has been having an affair with their servant, Abigail Williams.

The reader quickly infers that John Proctor had the affair because Elizabeth is a cold, emotionless and detached woman. Elizabeth is naïve about the situation and wants to still believe she is living a perfect life. At one point in the story she states, 'My husband is a good and righteous man. He is never drunk as some are, or wastin' his time at the shovelboard, but always his work.'

Upon realization of the affair, Elizabeth begins to blame herself and starts to understand John's actions. As the story continues, you begin to see different traits from Elizabeth as she faces different accusations as does her husband. She can't bear to let go of the pride she has or her loyalty to her husband.

In the final act, Elizabeth can no longer hold back the emotions she has had buried for so long. In her final words to her husband she says, 'Do what you will. But let none be your judge. There be no higher judge under Heaven than Proctor is! Forgive me, forgive me, John - I never knew such goodness in the World!' as she covers her faces and begins to sob wildly.

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