An Exploration of the Fear of Losing Reputation Within the Salem Society.

Topics: The Crucible, Salem witch trials, John Proctor Pages: 6 (2053 words) Published: October 25, 2012
Reputation: An exploration of the fear of losing reputation within the Salem Society.

Good afternoon, today I will be presenting my IOP. I have chosen to base it upon Arthur Millers’ novel ‘The Crucible’, which references back to the Salem Witch trials in 1692.

There are many themes in Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible', like intolerance, empowerment, honor, hysteria and paranoia, legal affairs, such as accusations and confessions as well as several references to McCarthyism. However the theme of reputation was only vaguely explored, but yet, it plays such a big important role in the play. This leads me to my presentation topic. (CLICK) Reputation: or to be exact, an exploration of the fear of losing reputation within the Salem Society. In today’s presentation I hope to further explore and develop Arthur Miller’s ideas and interpretations on the loss of reputation.

What is Reputation?
So first of all what is Reputation. (CLICK) Reputation, as stated by the Oxford Dictionary, is the belief or opinion that is generally held about someone or something, or a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular habit or characteristic.

Before we can isolate reputation, we have to understand that there are a whole lot of things that tie in with reputation. One of the more obvious ones is honor,(CLICK) or what you know about yourself. There is a direct link between reputation and honor. If one chooses to save his honor or reputation, it will affect the other, negatively in most cases. An example is:

Early on in the story John Proctor confessed to having intimate moments with Abigail Williams, therefore tainting his own reputation but doing the thing which is honorable. Confessing. Here, he chose honor over reputation; he’d rather have a clean conscience (what he knew about himself) than a good reputation (what others knew about him). After being accused of witchcraft, his dilemma was whether to confess to what he did not do or die at the rope. This time he did not confess. Once again he chose the honorable thing to do. Dying for what he believed in. In some eyes, his reputation was made even worse because he died an “unrepentant sinner” or as someone who was shameless of what he has done in his life, by this I mean the act of adultery. However, I’m sure some saw him as a martyr, so in a way he was saving his reputation as well.

What is Theocracy?
But before diving deeper into the matter, I would like to introduce the idea of theocracy.(CLICK) In Salem at the time, the reputation of a person was heavily influenced by theocracy, which is a system of government in which priests rule in the name of a god. Reputation heavily depended on how a person stood towards god and the church. If a person was true to the church their reputation was most likely well preserved and untarnished. Since this is a Puritan society, it took matters concerning the church very seriously. The novel itself depicts two views and positions towards the church and god. This is shown perfectly in the line spoken by Judge Thomas Danforth in Act 3 on Page 85.

A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road in between Act III, Pg: 85

The judge is portrayed selfish and extremely loyal to the rules and regulations of his position throughout the novel. His reputation and the public’s opinion of him are most important to him. There is not much to the quote other than it being an example of theocracy. He emphasizes the fact that one must make his mind up how they stand to the church and can’t sit on the fence, and not ebb back and forth between against and for it. The quote sums up the attitude of the authorities toward the witch trials. Danforth is an honorable man, but, like everyone else in Salem, he sees the world in black and white, meaning he looks at things in a very shallow manner and does not see the importance in looking for deeper meaning. Everything and everyone...
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