Choose Characters from the "The Crucible" and Write About Them as Examples of the Positive and Negative Impacts Religious Ethics Has on Individual Lives

Topics: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, John Proctor Pages: 6 (2379 words) Published: December 3, 2012
Salem is a small, extremely religious Puritan village in Massachusetts. In 1692 an event known as the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 took place due to several girls falling victim of seizures and hallucinations. At this time the due to the extremity of religion in people's lives, frightening or surprising occurrences were often attributed to the devil or his cohorts. In "The Crucible", Salem is portrayed as a theocracy, so people of the town have no choice but to abide by the rules. They must worship God, attend church on a regular basis and if this did not happen then you would be on suspicion of being a witch and worshipping the devil. "The Crucible" uses the characters to explore themes, motifs and symbols. There are both positive sides to actions made by the characters which not just affect their lives, but the rest of the town's lives as well. However the negatives outweigh the positives on this account of the trials, and as real life, there must be consequences for the characters who do not tell the truth.

John Proctor a farmer, with a down to earth “steady manner” is the tragic hero of the play and even though he dies at the end. He made some negative and positive choices before the play begins and during the play, which not just impacted him, but the entire town as well. The event which took place before the play started that Proctor was involved in, is the affair he had with Abigail Williams. This principally causes the events that occur in the play. Proctor is portrayed as a man who lives on a good name, so his public reputation means everything to him. The reason that Abigail started making accusations at everybody is because when he called off the affair and she was fired by Elizabeth Proctor, Proctor’s wife, jealousy was created and she wanted to get rid of Elizabeth so she could be Proctor’s wife. These are all the negative impacts that affected the town which occurred in chapter one and chapter two.

However and the end of chapter two all the way through to the end of the play, we notice a change in Proctor and most of his positive impacts on the town occur in these pages. Once the trials had begun and hangings were taking place, Proctor realizes that he can reveal Abigail and her followers as frauds, and stop their rampage through Salem; however he can only reveal them through confessing his adultery. This would ruin his good name, and Proctor is a proud man who places great emphasis on his reputation. He attempts to name Abigail as a fraud, eventually, through Mary Warren’s testimony, without revealing any crucial information. However when Abigail again defends herself and accuses others, Proctor calls Abigail a “whore” and then confesses, proclaiming his guilt publicly to the members of the court room. In spite of his confession, he realizes that it is too late and that he truth cannot break this frenzy. This frenzy does lead to his arrest and conviction as a witch; he is aware of his terrible role in allowing this fervor to grow unchecked.

In the final act, Proctor is offered the opportunity to make a public confession of his guilt and live. Proctor almost succumbs to this however he does not and chooses to die with his pride, fear and public opinion compelled him to withhold the truth from the court. In a readers’ opinion this could be considered selfish, as the only way to save him and encourage others to give their testimonies is to confess, however Proctor does not want his reputation ruined, so that his children may have a reputation. Proctor also does not what his name ruined for the future generations of his family to come. Proctor says in Act IV “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” Not confessing suggests that he is saving his name for personal and religious reasons, rather than...
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