The Importance Of Reputation In The Crucible


It is always not a righteous action to lie, but sometimes lying can be used as a shield to save one from danger. But when one lie was planted, people need more lies to cover it. In the play, The Crucible, almost all characters in Salem Massachusetts played a lie. They use the lie to protect themselves or their loved ones. During 1692, a group of Salem women was put on trial for being accused of witchcraft because people in the village have always been taught women were in relation with the Devil. The essential message Arthur Miller reveals in this play is that people would preserve their own reputation by accusing the innocents, hiding the truth, and threatening others.

Reputation has always been a central idea Arthur Miller draws attention to. In the play, people would accuse the innocent to protect their own reputation. Because they clearly understand they need their good name to maintain their current social status. In which, it also demonstrates the selfish side of human nature. When Francis Nurse and John Proctor claimed to have evidence against the truth of witchcraft, Judge Danforth responded, “But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time-we live no longer in the dusk afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world” (Miller 94). While all evidence proves his judgment is wrong, it still didn’t cease Danforth from persecuting those innocents. Because he would not let anything challenge his superiority. This is important because it significantly emphasizes that Danforth views everything in black and white. He believes the court belongs to God because they’re working under God’s will. So, Francis Nurse and John Proctor would be recognized as the enemy of God if they decided to question the court’s decision. After Abigail William accuses Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft, John Proctor asks Hale, “ Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser holy now?” (Miller ). While it might seem like a simple questioning about Hale’s thought, John Proctor is actually trying to warn him about the impossibility of indicating who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. Proctor uses the word “innocent” to imply Abigail’s guilt of false accusation. To protect herself from being accused by others, she purposely accuses Marry Warren and Elizabeth of witchcraft. One way, she could walk free while manipulating the court trust. In another way, she could also express her hatred and jealousy toward Elizabeth. In this case, both Judge Danforth and Abigail Williams are willing to use other people’s life to help themselves escape from peril.

People would also protect their prestige by hiding the truth. Except this time, it is Elizabeth Proctor who lies to maintain her husband’s integrity. Because sometimes those truths were just too embarrassed and hurtful for others to hear about it. When Elizabeth Proctor is forced to testify about John Proctor’s involvement with Abigail, she says, “My husband is a good and righteous man. He is never drunk as some are, nor wastin’ his time at the shovelboard, but always at his work. But in my sickness - you see, sir, I were a long time sick after my last baby, and I thought I saw my husband somewhat turning from me. And this girl-” (Miller ). Knowing her husband did commit adultery, she’s still intended to describe him as being hardworking, honest, and devout to her. While trying to be fair with John Proctor, it also gives Elizabeth the opportunity to explain the reason why Abigail hates her and stabs needles into her stomach to accuse her. This is critical because it indicates the importance of John Proctor is to Elizabeth and she did forgive him. Some may argue that John Proctor doesn’t deserve Elizabeth’s forgiveness for he’s only doing it to make himself feel good and to save himself a good name; however, he also demonstrates his sincerity by defending Elizabeth and accusing Abigail when they arrested Elizabeth.

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