Deception In The Crucible

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Pages: 5

In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the lack of truth propels the hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials. The initial conflict arises when Abigail Williams makes accusations against the people of Salem, Massachusetts. However, the lies told by the accused incriminate them further. The consequences that the characters face as a result of their deception, attests to Miller’s belief that lies, regardless of the intention, do not warrant justification. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller suggests that choosing to tell lies for self-preservation or to tell truths to maintain one’s goodness, determines who achieves moral redemption. The hysteria begins with Abigail’s false account of the events that took place in the woods. Even though …show more content…
In order to save the innocent townspeople accused by Abigail, John reveals the affair between them to discredit her character. John asks the unconvinced court officials to verify the truth with his wife because her reputation of goodness and honesty makes her credible. However, when questioned about the affair, Elizabeth—unaware of her husband’s confession, denies it. She defends John to Deputy Governor Danforth by saying, “My husband is a good and righteous man. He is never drunk as some are, nor wastin’ his time at the shovelboard, but always at his work” (Crucible 3. p. 1149). Elizabeth wants to protect her husband’s good name because she knows how much he values his reputation. Although Abigail and Elizabeth have different motives for lying, the result remains the same. Miller believes that no justification exists for falsehoods, and the harm caused by Elizabeth’s deceit only reinforces this. By denying the affair, Elizabeth discredits her own husband. As a result, John ends up unable to expose Abigail so her accusations of witchcraft remain unchallenged. Reverend Hale also tries to use deceit in a similar manner—to protect others. Upon realizing that Abigail’s accusations had been fabricated, he attempts to save the townspeople he helped to imprison. He advises Elizabeth by saying, “I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess. Let him give his