Daniel Day-Lewis as John Proctor in the 1996 film.

A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that Quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud- God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!
~ John Proctor

John Proctor is the main character of the play The Crucible and its respective film adaptations. A troubled farmer who is accused of witchcraft by paranoid townsfolk, Proctor represents a religious skeptic who tries to do right but gives into temptation and has to make up for it.

He has been portrayed by Yves Montand and Daniel Day-Lewis in the films based off the play.


Make your peace with it! Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped away-make your peace! Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. He walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky. Aye, naked! And the wind, God's icy wind, will blow!
~ Proctor to Mary Warren.
Early morning in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, some young village girls meet in the woods with a Barbadian slave named Tituba. One of the girls, Abigail Williams, kills a chicken and drinks the blood, wishing for John Proctor's wife to die. They are surprised by Abigail's uncle, Reverend Samuel Parris, who discovers them. As the girls run away, Parris' daughter, Betty, falls over unconscious.

Parris questions Abigail about the events that took place in the woods; Betty will not awaken, nor will Ruth, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Putnam, who was also dancing. This strikes Mrs. Putnam hard as she has had seven other children before Ruth who died at childbirth. The Parris house is also visited by Giles Corey, who suspects that the children are just acting their sicknesses, and John Proctor, with whom Abigail had an affair and whose wife she wants dead. Abigail still loves Proctor, but Proctor feels that he made a mistake and leaves her. The Putnams and Reverend Parris believe that Betty and Ruth are demonically possessed, so they call Reverend John Hale from Beverly, to examine Betty. To save herself and the other girls from punishment, Abigail claims that Tituba was working with the devil. After a brutal whipping, Tituba confesses to being a witch. Struck by their newfound power, the other girls begin naming other women whom they "saw" with the devil. One of these is Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor's wife.

John, determined not to give his lover her vengeance, insists that his servant, Mary Warren, one of the "afflicted" girls, testify in court that the witchcraft was faked. Although Mary Warren is frightened of Abigail, she eventually agrees. In the court, Francis Nurse gives a list of names of people who vouch for the accused; in response, the judges order that all on the list be arrested and brought in for questioning. Giles Corey insists that when Ruth Putnam accused Rebecca Nurse, Mr. Putnam was heard to tell his daughter that she had won him a "fine gift of land" (the Nurses' property was coveted by the Putnam family). Corey refuses to give the name of the person who heard this remark, and the judges order Corey's arrest. Meanwhile, Mary Warren insists that she only thought she saw spirits. John is told that Elizabeth is pregnant and will be spared from death until the baby is born, but he insists on charging the girls with false witness.

The other girls are called in and asked if they were lying about the witchcraft but cause a commotion, screaming that Mary Warren is putting a spell on them. In order to demonstrate that Abigail is not an innocent person, John confesses to having had an affair with her. He then claims that Abigail accused Elizabeth in order to get rid of her, so that she could marry him. Elizabeth is called in to see if the accusation is true. However, not knowing that John confessed and wanting to save his reputation, she lies. The girls turn the court further against the Proctors by screaming that Mary Warren is attacking them in the form of a yellow bird. To save herself from being hanged as a witch, Mary Warren accuses John. When asked if he will return to God, John despairingly yells "I say God is dead!" and is arrested as a witch.

On the day before John is to be hanged, Abigail attempts to convince the court that Reverend Hale's wife is also a witch; this plot backfires on her as the judges believe that a reverend's wife is too clean to be possessed by Satan. In time, the girls become outcasts and Abigail steals Reverend Parris's money to catch a ship to flee to Barbados, but not before asking John to go with her, telling him she never wished any of this on him. He refuses. On the eve of John's hanging, Parris, fearing that his execution will cause riots in Salem directed at him, allows John to meet with Elizabeth to see if she can make her husband "confess" to save his life. John agrees. The judges insist that the confession must be publicly displayed to prove his guilt and to convince others to confess, but John angrily tears up the confession, determined to keep his name pure for his sons. He is taken away to be hanged. Before being hanged, he, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey recite the Lord's Prayer, something that a person under satanic influence could never do.


  • "I'll think on it."
  • "I’ll tell you what’s walkin' Salem- vengeance is walkin' Salem, but now the crazy little children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law."
  • "Show honor now, show them a stony heart and sink them with it!"
  • "You bring down heaven and raise up a whore!"
  • "It is not on a boat we'll meet again Abigail, but in hell."
  • "WHORE! How do you call heaven?"
  • "Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time, but I will cut off my hand before I reach for you again. We never touched."
  • "If you cry witch against my wife, it will be the end of you."
  • "Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer."
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