The Crucible. Dramatic Irony

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Passage-based essay


The moment in which Elizabeth tells a lie in order to save her husband’s life, indicates dramatic irony. The playwright makes this happen when first John Proctor calls Abigail’s a whore and, in spite of the humiliation he felt, revealed his affair with her. As Danforth cannot believe the seventeen year-old girl is actually a “whore”, he asks Goody Proctor to come up to test the truth of this charge. Before she enters the court, John swears Elizabeth is an extremely honest woman so when she denies his adultery to save him, there is a contrast as she is supposed to be trustful. They both risk their good name with the intention of saving each other’s life in different ways: John confessing his sin and Elizabeth lying. The drama and the irony are clearly shown by Miller in two relevant aspects.

In the first place, Proctor makes one desperate attempt for this authority by overcoming his desire to protect his good name, exposing his own secret sin. Although he realizes that confessing his lechery with Abigail will bring shame and dreadful consequences upon himself and his family, he chooses to save the reputation and life of his wife and sacrificing both his honor and his integrity. As he puts it, “(…) A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that.” In order to Danforth to believe him and not Abigail who was denying it, Proctor exposes himself in the court. He hopes to replace his wife’s suspected guilt with his own guilt and bring down the dismissed servant in the process. In the second place, before the annoyed court officials call for Elizabeth Proctor to find out the truth about John and Abigail and to verify his faithlessness, Proctor states: “In her life, sir, she have never lied. There are them that cannot sing, and them that cannot weep- my wife cannot lie. I have paid much to learn it (…).” Elizabeth, who has lived by the truth as his husband holds, when questioned about Proctor’s fidelity, her soul was...
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