John Proctor loses his life not because he is guilty of a crime or even because he is an extremely brave man. Instead, he chooses to die because he will not sign his name to a confession that he knows is false (Miller, 1, 138). He retrieves his own "goodness" by refusing to name others as having consorted with the devil. Though willing to admit to such an action on his own behalf, he refuses to allow the mass hysteria occurring in Salem to force him into signing a statement that he knows to be a lie (Blaney, 15).
John Proctor, in the view of theater critic Retta Blaney (15), is a man who does not tolerate a fool well. Knowing that he has sinned by consorting with a woman who was not his wife, Proctor refuses to allow his guilt over this sin to be compounded by whistleblowing on his neighbors who also have been accused of consorting with the devil. In this manner, an ordinary man who Miller (1, p. 132) maintains wants his life suddenly realizes that life without dignity is not tolerable.
Part of the problem that confronts the ordinary man known as John Proctor is that he cannot reconcile his guilt with his need to stand well in his community. When his wife, Elizabeth, is taken to stand trial for witchcraft, Proctor recognizes that what has occurred is the result of jealousy directed at his wife by the young