Miller constructs a sense of indecision in Proctor. This is made clearly evident when Proctor is told by Elizabeth to announce Abigail’s pretence. He hesitates by saying ‘I wonder if my story would be credited in such a court’. Through this quote, Miller uses Proctor to show how reputation is important. Through Proctor’s stalling, Miller shows how Proctor wishes for ‘[his] name’ not be tarnished and so does not want to confess to lechery. The importance of honesty disappears and instead Proctor decides not to confess. Miller creates this change in morality to illustrate the diminishing integrity when one desires to avoid a bad situation.
This is furthermore displayed through Proctor’s dilemma in Act IV – whether to confess or not. Wanting to continue to live, Proctor’s value of honesty again falters. He admits that ‘[his] honesty is broke’ but uses it as an excuse to lie again. He begins to believe that another lie will not make any change. Miller again shows one’s change of morals in dire circumstances. Once Proctor realises his life is at risk, his thoughts change in favour of preserving it. Sinning is out of the question and living is first priority. The sudden natural thought of dishonesty illustrates how one’s morality can change to avoid bad situations – in Proctor’s case, death. Miller uses the development of Proctor to show how one can change when trying to avoid bad situations.
This change in morality and corruption of innocence is also shown through Abigail. From Act II to the end of the play, she presents lie over lie to the court to avoid the embarrassment of confessing to conjuring with spirits. Her lies create hysteria in the town of Salem yet she continues to give false accusations. Although she says the catastrophe is ‘naught to do with witchcraft’, she does