The Crucible By Atthur Miller Essay, Research Paper
Cheryl Bohlin 11/28/00 English P.11
A reaction to John Proctors Choice of Execution
Salem was an entire Puritan community manifested by greed, lust, fear, and ignorance; these qualities caused the accusations of witchcraft. The Crucible written by Arthur Miller is a play that took place in the sixteen nineties during the famous but tragic Salem Witch Trials. During the time of the trials everyone was either politically motivated to believe the girls wild antics were the work of the devil, or they were so gullible that they think no child could ever lie. It became obvious soon after the trials started that their neighbors had falsely accused many people as a method of revenge, and as an outlet for their maliciousness. Abigail Williams was the nucleus of all evil in the story. She tempted Proctor into lechery, and committed its unlawful acts which all are against the Puritan religion. To escape punishment for other offences such as dancing, she denied the actions and blamed them on someone else, and did not care how many lives she ruined. Abigail started throwing the blame, first at her slave Tituba, and again uses this case to attack Rebecca Nurse, one of the best Puritans in Salem. John Proctor saw this and began his effort to stop the injustice. His urgency increased when Abigail accused Elizabeth, John s wife out of envy of and lust of John. Elizabeth was then tried and sentenced to death, leaving John to be accused next. This further motivated John to save his wife, his community and eventually himself. In order to do this he had to prove Abigail was a liar and expose her for the evil she was, but he would also have to admit his wrong doing as well. In addition, he also had to convince the leaders of Salem that they were mistaken in believing in witches. A hard thing to convince when the victims are frightened to think of denying the evidence, because to deny the existence of evil is to deny the existence of goodness, which is god. Not a sole could prove they weren t casting spells or charming people, if they could not prove it they could not save themselves. John contemplated the importance of his family, name, life and what good was left in Salem. He struggled with the fact the real truth behind Abigail s motivation would condemn her, but would condemn himself as well. He chose death over defamation of his character, to protect his family from accusation. John Proctors choice of death over a lie to save his life was believable, it was a harshly suffered loss but in doing so he protected his family and finally redeems his good character
John s biggest inner turmoil was confessing he had committed adultery with young Abigail Williams. This roped him into the trials against his will. His efforts to gain back the love and trust of his wife Elizabeth were denied by Abigail s bold accusations. This was clearly Abigail s endeavor to regain the love of John, in hopes that he would turn to her after Elizabeth was put to death. Abigail used Johns pride against him she knew that John would never want to tarnish his name, but she also had underestimated the goodness within him and his need to redeem himself in the eyes of his wife.
Proctor proved to be a good and noble man and this was demonstrated when he decided that he could not confess to the crime of witchcraft and avoid being hung. To accept a confession the judge required him to sign a written confession, which stated that he was guilty by the crime of witchcraft. Because it is my name. Because I cannot have another in my life How many I live without my name? I have given you my soul; Leave me my name (IV 143). Proctor was emotionally disturbed, because he had too much pride to allow fellow puritans to look down on him with disdain, even if he could have spared himself, he would not allow himself to be branded a witch. John later said to Elizabeth My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothing s spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long ago (IV136). John felt strongly about having a good name and not dying with a bad one. He weighed both sides of both sides of his internal conflict and realized he could not make another mistake, and instead would justify his first mistake with his death.
Proctor prescribed himself an unfortunate death, not out of selfishness, but rather for the sake of his family, this was a heroic decision on his part. The Proctors find themselves in their final conversation; both reveal their true feelings and emotions. John is filled with joy to see his wife s forgiveness but at this point he is sentenced to death, and the true tragedy of their love became most evident. As John died, Mr. Hale pleaded for Elizabeth to help her husband to confess, but she was only able to choke out a weep saying He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him (IV 145). Abigail s only triumph was destroying their marriage, but she didn t benefit from it. Instead she forced John to make the ultimate sacrifice, not sparing his life.
John Proctors choice to die was important to make a statement against the insanity of the town, for himself and for God, and using that as a last resort to make people aware of what was happening and to stop the mass hysteria. He was a martyr, for having died for a cause and saving the lives of other innocent people. This last attempt for righteousness is an example of proctor s great character and rationale. Through John Proctor s experiences will people learn the valuable lesson of doing the right thing regardless of the consequences?