English 11 Honors
September 21, 2013
Crucible Essay In the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone by JK Rowling, a fellow family friend of Harry's, Peter Pettigrew, lives a normal life with his good friends. However, when the antagonist Voldemort invades his town, Peter has to either join Voldemort’s forces as a traitor to his friends or die a hero. Peter, who is afraid of dying at the hands of Voldemort, ultimately joins Voldemort’s forces and in the process he betrays his friends. Scared that his name will be blackened in his town and his reputation will be ruined, Peter kills twelve innocent people and places the blame on his old friend, Sirius Black. Peter would rather lie and place his integrity on the line than blacken his own name. Similarly, in the Crucible by Arthur Miller, Miller writes a story based on the history of the Salem Witch Trials, where the villagers accused each other of practicing witchcraft in order to preserve their reputation. When people placed in a moral dilemma where they can either tell the truth or lie, they will chose what ever option preserves their reputation because a ruined reputation would blacken their image in a society and they would lose the respect of everyone in society. John Proctor's refusal to lie in order to save his reputation conveys the importance of one's reputation. Proctor is an innocent man who is falsely accused of collaborating with the devil and manipulating others to obey his commands. When Proctor is given the choice to speak the truth or lie, Proctor tells the truth to save his reputation. Danforth, the judge who is the head of the trial, prays for Proctor to lie in order to keep the people of Salem at ease, but Proctor blurts out, " Because it is my name! I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"(150). This quote exemplifies Proctor’s devotion to protecting his reputation at all cost. If Proctor lied then he will be absolved of blame but Proctor adhered to his morals and in the process condemned himself. The church wants Proctor to lie so riots will not break out; however, Proctor wants his name to remain clean no matter the cost. Proctor would rather throw his away his life than have the church ruin his name by publicizing his sins. Lying would have saved his life, but his reputation would be destroyed and his image in society would have been tarnished. Reputation in Salem society was as valuable as any amount of material wealth and if someone loses their reputation, they are at rock bottom. To prevent his family from hitting rock bottom, Proctor makes the ultimate sacrifice. Before Proctor is executed, his wife Elizabeth Proctor says, "He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!" (152). When she says this, it exhibits how everyone sees his good reputation and how important it is. His actions not only maintained his image in the eyes of others but his wrongful death by the court led to the eventual end of the Salem Witch Trials.
Reverend Parris did not want to lose his reputation because he is afraid that losing his image in society will give his enemies the power to kick him out office. Parris is the minister for Salem, and he is a proud, haughty person who is always afraid that his enemies are plotting to kick him out of office. He believes that "there is either obedience or the church will burn like hell!" (31). When Parris sees his niece and her friends dancing in the woods, he is afraid that witchcraft has struck their town. However, as holes in the girls’ story start to appear Parris is afraid that the citizens of Salem will revolt after so many people were condemned of witchcraft. Parris says," But if you trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know