Reputation in the Crucible

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In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, lies and accusations of witchcraft drive the puritan village of Salem to uncover what each character values the most: reputation. Abigail Williams, accused of being seen dancing with the devil, confesses her friends names to the court in order to save herself from being deemed a witch: “I want to open myself! . . . I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil” (Miller 171). Abigail, presented with the choice of either saving her friends or her reputation, clearly chose her reputation over the lives of her friends. By confessing to consorting with the Devil, Abigail frees herself from guilt in the eyes of Salem. Abigail then accuses the other girls of being witches, shifting the burden of shame from her shoulders onto theirs. Throughout the play, she tells lies, manipulates her friends and the entire town, and eventually sends nineteen innocent people to their deaths. Also after reputation is Judge Danforth, the presiding judge at the witch trials who trades in the lives of many for the respect of being a reputable judge in Boston. Danforth plays a remorseless Salem judge who is set in his belief that the court is always right: “A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it (Miller 94).” Caught up in rooting out witchcraft, Danforth fails to realize the hysterical conclusions presented to him in the courtroom. By accusing all 72 victims of witchery, Danforth hopes to promote his position as a judge and increase his chances of becoming a respected judge in Salem. Not caring to further examine the testimonies of the ‘witches’ presented to him; Danforth convicts all 72 victims without hesitation. The biggest test of them all is when John Proctor, a well-known name in the town and having a clean slate...
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