The Crucible

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“How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” Says the character John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Probably the most powerful line the entire play, it is apparent that the idea of the importance of “names” is the central theme of this great classic.

The author begins to develop this idea early in the play beginning with the conversation between Reverend Parris (a fearful reverend who instigates the witchcraft panic when he finds his daughter, Betty Parris and niece, Abigail Williams dancing in the woods with several other girls) and Abigail Williams (the niece of Reverend Parris, the Proctors’ servant before Elizabeth Proctor fired her for having an affair with John Proctor. Instigates the Salem witch trials and leads the charge of accusations against those who oppose her.) Early in Act I, Abigail attempts to defend herself by claiming her actions in the wood were merely but a sport, Reverend Parris goes on to say, “…I have put clothes upon your back- now give me upright answer. Your name in the town- it is entirely pure, isn’t it?” It implies that the reverend is defending the name of the family as opposed to the truth of the family within itself placing name above family. Another great example that displays the theme of name begins in Act III with the character Giles Corey. Corey is an old resident of Salem who accidentally accuses his own wife of witchery by stating that, “she reads books at night.” And who refuses to give a name of a man whom told him that Putnam was accusing witchery against his neighbors solely for the purpose of acquiring land. “…He’ll lay in jail if I give his name…I will not give you no name. I mentioned my wife’s name once and I’ll burn in hell long enough for that. I stand mute.” –Giles Corey. The court, ordered to lay stones on his chest, never to drive the name out of Corey only the phrase “more weight”, later kills Giles. The characters mentioned so far did not have large parts in the...
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