Die Honorably or Live Dishonorably
Honor, dignity, and integrity are traits that are becoming more and more rare in our society. The Crucible, a play written in 1952 by Arthur Miller, is based on the Salem witch hunts of 1692 and parallels the Red Scare and McCarthyism in the 1950s. In the play, Miller attempts to focus his themes around traits such as honor, dignity, and integrity, and as a result, the theme "is it better to die honorably or live dishonorably" becomes vital to the story and well conveyed throughout it. The characters that exemplify this idea are John Proctor and Giles Corey, both of whom die by the end of the play, and Reverend John Hale and Abigail Williams, who live through the trials.
John Proctor is an honest, though harsh, man who is clearly the protagonist of The Crucible. Before the beginning of the play, John had an affair with Abigail Williams, a girl who worked in his household, which was abruptly ended when Elizabeth Proctor, John's wife, fired her. This event causes Abigail to desire revenge against Elizabeth while she still pines for John. Once the trials are well underway, Abigail accuses Elizabeth of being a witch, which leads to her arrest. John goes to the court in defense of his wife, where he reveals that he did indeed committed adultery with Abigail in an attempt to expose her as a fraud and a liar. Unfortunately, John's appeal falls on deaf ears and he is arrested as well. While his wife manages to get a temporary stay of execution, due to the fact that she is pregnant at the time of the trials, which in the end saves her by insuring her life until the chaos, hysteria, and persecution comes to an end, John is sentenced to death. The play ends with his hanging, but his death puts an end to the trials.
Though he does make some mistakes, John Proctor is essentially a good man. In act one, Proctor exchanges angry words with Reverend Parris and says, "I may speak my heart, I think!" (30). Parris is more...
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