Just lately, my WordPress stats page has been turning up quite a few visitors from search engines using the phrase “What is John Proctor Preoccupied With“…I just had to know, so I googled that phrase myself and what do you know, the second post I ever made on this blog came up first in the google listings!
I find it rather humorous. Almost every day for the past couple of weeks, some poor schmuck- a student studying for a quiz, or working on an essay about The Crucible, I’ve no doubt- has stumbled over here looking for inspiration and answers, only to find extensive fan-girling for Richard Armitage! =)
Sorry, kids! My bad.
So! I thought I’d take a few minutes, here, and maybe help them out. We all know what I’m preoccupied with, but what IS John Proctor preoccupied with? Of course, the answer to this Google query depends on the context of the question, and which Act in Miller’s work we’re discussing. Since I don’t have it in me today to cover the deeper themes that Proctor must contemplate in the later Acts, I’ll stick with the surface-level preoccupations that I believe may be affecting John Proctor as the play opens. With helpful images for illustration…
Early on, one could argue that John, a virile man whose mistress has been ousted from his land and whose wife is yet cool toward him, might be preoccupied with those same thoughts that no doubt plague stallions, when breeding season is over. “The promise that a stallion gives a mare I gave that girl!”
Alternatively, when his mind rises above his sex drive, maybe John Proctor is preoccupied with indignation over the shoddy preaching on the part of his pastor.
“Can you speak one minute without we land in Hell again?”
Let’s not forget Reverend Paris and all that grasping for wealth.
Pewter candlesticks are good enough for John Proctor.
Or, how about his ongoing wrangling over property boundaries and acreage with nasty neighbors like Putnam?
“My lumber. From out my forest by the riverside!”
(And when he wasn’t plowing on Sunday, he was probably thinking of other kinds of plowing.
I know I did, when he said that.)
At home, poor John Proctor’s mind works feverishly to think of ways to restore himself to his wife’s good graces… and after much deliberation, he’s had one stroke of manly creativity he thinks might please her.
“If the crop is good I’ll buy George Jacobs’ heifer.”
Once the ball gets rolling, our hero is about to have these base and arguably petty preoccupations swept away completely. With his wife now accused, her life and the life they’ve built together on the line, John Proctor finds himself suddenly faced with much weightier preoccupations… presenting a case that might restore reason to a court gone mad, facing his own demons, finding his honor again.
These weightier preoccupations I just don’t feel up to tackling today. Hint: Students, you will find other Richard Armitage bloggers that can, and do, tackle those deeper themes. Am I right, Servetus? =)
But if you’re looking for simplistic answers, I’m your gal. You ought to be able to take one or more thoughts here and run with it.
P.S. Students: if you get the chance, do watch for The Crucible staged by The Old Vic starring Richard Armitage (of Thorin Oakenshield fame). Might be coming to theatres near you (unless you happen to live in North America), and it’s an extraordinary performance from the entire ensemble. Will also be available for download at Digital Theatre in 2015!
Oh, and there’s this. —>