Credibility in the Crucible
In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, lies and allegations of witchcraft drive the puritan village of Salem to discover what each character values the most: track record. Abigail Williams, implicated of being seen dancing with the devil, admits her friends names to the court in order to conserve herself from being considered a witch: “I wish to open myself! … I desire the light of God, I desire the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I composed in his book; I return to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil!
I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil” (Miller 171). Abigail, provided with the choice of either saving her pals or her reputation, plainly picked her reputation over the lives of her good friends. By confessing to consorting with the Devil, Abigail frees herself from guilt in the eyes of Salem. Abigail then implicates the other ladies of being witches, shifting the concern of embarassment from her shoulders onto theirs. Throughout the play, she tells lies, controls her good friends and the whole town, and ultimately sends nineteen innocent individuals to their deaths.
Likewise after track record is Judge Danforth, the presiding judge at the witch trials who trades in the lives of lots of for the regard of being a trusted judge in Boston. Danforth plays a remorseless Salem judge who is embeded in his belief that the court is always best: “An individual is either with this court or he should be counted versus it (Miller 94).” Caught up in rooting out witchcraft, Danforth fails to recognize the hysterical conclusions provided to him in the courtroom. By implicating all 72 victims of witchery, Danforth wishes to promote his position as a judge and increase his possibilities of becoming a highly regarded judge in Salem.
Not caring to even more analyze the testimonies of the ‘witches’ provided to him; Danforth convicts all 72 victims without doubt. The greatest test of them all is when John Proctor, a popular name in the town and having a fresh start so far, is required to choose in between his life and his reputation. The Proctor finally confesses to having an affair with Abigail after attempting, in vain, to expose her as a fraud without exposing their liaison: “A guy may believe God sleeps, but God sees whatever, I know it now.
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- Power In The Crucible
I plead you, sir, I ask you– see her what she is … She believes to dance with me on my spouse’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her gently. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a slut’s revenge …” (Miller 110). In spite of the reality that the Proctor cared for Abigail, he chose that his own track record was more important than their relationship. The Proctor knew from the beginning that the witch trials were nothing more than a fraud to conceal their affair.
The Proctor ultimately chooses being condemned to losing face in the town of Salem. As an outcome of the witch trials, 72 innocent lives are taken because of the pure ignorance that the characters had to save their credibilities. Even after their desperate efforts to omit themselves from those being condemned, Abigail and John Proctor pay a high cost to restore what they can of what they value the most: their track records. Works Cited Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York City: Penguin, 1995.