Essay On The Crucible, By Arthur Miller

1685 words - 7 pages

This essay is about the moral dilemma John Proctor is faced with. It analyzes the good/bad sied of the two options, to lie and live or to tell the truth and die. Contains quotes and specific details. I sugesst students of Spaulding HS in Barre do not use this.The Crucible-By Arthur MillerIn our lives, we are faced with many life altering choices, many of which are based on one main subject; right versus wrong, or good versus bad. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, a character named John Proctor is faced with a great moral dilemma. Should he put his reputation on the line to save his life, or tell the truth and die an honest man? John Proctor must decide between these two horrible fates, as a once sane Christian town falls down around him, and all faith in God is lost.The Crucible is set back in 1692, in Salem Massachusetts. As a strictly puritan society, the people of Salem had been held under tough authority, and in the midst of it, had been searching for ways to get back at each other. When the Reverend Parris's niece, daughter, and slave are found with many other village girls dancing in the woods and conjuring spirits, the villagers believed that the devil was walking in Salem. When the group of girls who had been dancing in the woods were questioned about their actions "cried out" against women and men in the town, saying that they were witches and had told them to do it. One of these girls was Abigail Williams, the Reverend Parris's niece. Abigail had been having an affair with John Proctor, a well respected and revered farmer in Salem. As the story continues, Abigail accuses John's wife, Elizabeth Proctor, of trying to murder her so that Elizabeth will be hung with all of the other condemned witches. In his haste to free his wife, John goes to the court to confess his affair with Abigail, and her reasons for wanting Elizabeth dead. When Elizabeth is brought before the court to confirm John's confession, she lies and says that he did not commit adultery. Soon after, John tries to get his servant (one of the girls found dancing in the woods) Mary Warren to tell the court that the girls causing every one are frauds. But in doing this, John himself is accused by Mary, and is sent to jail with all of the others accused.This is when John Proctor is faced with a moral dilemma. If he lies, and signs a confession saying that he made a compact with the devil, he will live, blackening his name forever. But if he tells the truth and will not confess to witchcraft, then he will hang with the others, and die an honest death. In the end, John chooses to tell the truth, hoping to cleanse his already sinful name, and also keeping the names of his friends clean. I see this as the right thing to do. By telling the truth, John clears his own conscience, and keeps his good name, being remembered throughout Salem as a martyr.There are several things that have caused this moral dilemma bestowed upon John Proctor. When Abigail told John about the dancing and the conjuring of spirits that she and the other girls had done in the woods, he didn't say anything to the Judge Danforth or Reverend Hale when the whole suspicion of witchcraft came about. If he had, it may have stopped the ordeal because the girls wouldn't have been so wrapped up in the trails with no way to escape when Hale and Danforth finally did find out. Another example would be that if John hadn't had the affair with Abigail, then she wouldn't have had any reason of accusing his wife of witchcraft, which would also mean that he would never been accused either. If it weren't for the things that John Proctor had done himself, keeping secrets and committing sins in the first place, then he probably wouldn't be faced with this moral dilemma.And now, John is faced with two choices, one of which is to lie and live, confessing to the charge of witchcraft. If he chooses to take this option, there will be both good and bad outcomes. If John does this, he will be able to return home after a few months in jail and he could live to raise his sons, as he explains to Rebecca while contemplating his decision before confessing to Danforth, "Let them that never lied die now to keep their souls. It is pretense for me, a vanity that will not blind God nor keep my children out of the wind." If John chooses to lie, he could raise his children, and go back to living a quiet life with Elizabeth. On the downside of lying to save his life though, John would feel forever guilty with his decision of letting his friends die while he lied to keep alive. With the tremendous guilt that he had after his affair with Abigail, and the guilt of lying about his confession, John would feel even more worthless than he did before.The second choice that Proctor is faced with, is to tell the truth, and hang with all of his friends who refuse to sell themselves out to lies. If Proctor does this, he will no longer be the sinful man he thinks himself to be, and will have a clean name. When John is signing the confession, and is trying to convince judge Danforth not to put the confession on the church door, he tells the judge "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life...I lie and sign myself to lies! ...How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" This shows that John cares about his reputation, and if that confession were put on the door of the church, he would never be able to forgive himself for lying. Also, a reason to tell the truth is that he would be a good role model for his sons, who may other wise look down upon him as a coward in their older years if he was to lie, "I have three children--how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?" Another reason that John makes the choice to tell the truth is that he would keep the names of his friends clean, and not betray them. When John is speaking with Danforth again, he says "I blacken all of them when this is nailed to the church door the very day they hang for silence!" All of these examples show the reasons why John should tell the truth.I think that John Proctor made the right choice when he decided to tell the truth. I know that it would be a tough decision to make in such a short amount of time, and that any modern day person would lie to keep their life. But back in the Puritan times, having a bad reputation was like dying. You could be shunned by the community, or excommunicated entirely. So this is why I believe that if I were in Proctor's shoes, I would decide to tell the truth. I have strong morals now, so if I had grown up back then, I believe that they would be even stronger. Reputation is a major part of me, I take pride in getting decent grades and usually making the decisions that will make me better as a person. Even though they aren't always right, I usually can decipher the difference between right and wrong. I would not be able to lie about some thing that I absolutely did not believe in, especially some thing that would ruin life. I would also not be able to let my friend's hang (like Proctor was going to) and lie to keep myself alive for the same reason that they would hang for. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I did. Maybe if I was actually put in that situation during these times (which is very unlikely), I would change my mind, but like I said, back then I think that my faith and loyalty would get in the way. I would tell the truth as Proctor did.In The Crucible, John Proctor is faced with a hard decision, to live his life with a lie that would haunt him until the day that he died, or be truthful and die as a good man to himself and his fellow friends. In the end I think that John does make the right decision, and even though he loses his life for his decision, he forgave himself for the sins that he once committed, and that probably got him into this moral dilemma in the first place. He answered the question that he asked himself while he signed the false confession "What is John Proctor?" He realized the John Proctor was a good man, with faults like every human, and that by being truthful, he would accept forgiveness for the sins he once committed. He would be a role model to his children, he would have a clean name, regain the trust and forgiveness of his wife, and he would not betray his friends. John Proctor would see himself not as a saint, like Rebecca Nurse, but as a man with faults who would die for the salvation of his soul and his own forgiveness.


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