The Salem Witch Trials are a tragic example in history of persecution and unjustified violence. Mob mentality led to many deaths, while simultaneously revealing a basic facet of human nature: Humans are inherently good, and most will struggle to retain that basic dignity.
In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, witch hunts occur in the Puritan Community of Salem. In Basic Puritan belief, the human spirit is inherently sinful, or depraved. Therefore, it is entirely logical that people would seek out the Devil through witchcraft or otherwise. Nevertheless, Miller seeks to demonstrate the basic morals that humans are born with as sentient beings. Many of the accused witches refused to bear false witness, to lie and confess the sin of “witchcraft.” They chose death in dignity over life in guilt and shame.
One such example is John Proctor. Throughout the play, he suffers from a guilty conscience as a consequence of his sins. Proctor’s lechery is arguably the root of the entire conflict in Miller’s story. It remains hidden by both Proctor and his wife for most of the play. However, John Proctor is eventually prompted to confess his sin publicly, despite the damage it would cause his name (Proctor’s name most likely represents his pride, or his public image.) Logically this confession should spare at least the lives of the Proctors, if not all of the accused. Due to miscommunication, and plain bad luck, John Proctor is next pressured to confess witchcraft. This confession would appease his accusers, and yet Proctor still refuses. He confesses what he knows to be his sins, and nothing more. When asked for his reason, he says that his name is all that he has left. A confession would spare his life, but he finds more value in his name, his legacy, and his spirituality.
John Proctor’s “name” is an important metaphor, and a theme of the play. It is a representation of pride, of dignity, and most characters refuse to relinquish it....
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