Reputation in the Crucible Essay
Reputation plays a huge role in everyday society. Reputation is dependable upon actions, words, positions, and expected behavior. One can have either a respected or shriveled reputation. One might have a reputation to withstand and have specific guidelines to keep his/her position. In The Crucible, Some people stay true to themselves and value fate in God, others did anything to stay alive. In The Crucible, amongst every other issue, reputation impacts the Puritan and Salem society the most. In the play some characters value their reputation and other characters do not seem to care about their reputation as much. Miller describes the importance of reputation through his characters, Reverend Parris, John Hale, Elizabeth Proctor, and Giles Corey.
In The Crucible, some characters will do anything to protect their reputation and others do not seem to worry. One character that lives and dies around his reputation is Reverend Parris. Reverend Parris is a minister who is greedy, selfish, paranoid and power seeking; He is also disliked by many townspeople. Parris never had many issues that would ruin his reputation until something out of the ordinary happened. He caught his daughter with his niece and a few other girls dancing and having fun in the forest. Parris does not worry about his daughters’ wellbeing or the possibility of witchcraft in his house; rather, he cares about how this would affect his reputation if leaked. If people found out about this incident, he will lose his position and everything he ever worked for. He is only worried about his own life and how people will think of him. “Parris: Now look you, child, your punishment will come in its time. But if you trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it”, Parris knows that if word get out about his family being condemned he is ruined (page 10). He believed he worked hard for this position and does not want to lose it. Parris is not the only character in the play that worries about keeping their reputation. Focused on maintaining public reputation, the townsfolk of Salem fear that the sins of their friends will scar their names. Parris is just the one of many characters who worry so much about their reputation.
Additionally, Reverend John Hale has trained to be the best witch-hunter ever, and he finally gets a chance to show his skills off. He cares too much about himself, but his goal is to fight the Devil. He has to prove to the townsmen that he is as valuable as they think he is to keep his reputation at a high level as it is. Hale has to detect a specific amount of witches to be accepted and liked, “He spent a good deal of his time pondering the invisible world, especially since he had himself encountered a witch in his parish not long before”, his reputation was nothing more than a witch-hunter (page 31). Hale goes through a character change throughout the play. At first he is a confident witch-hunter who would find afflicted victims but then he changed. He did not worry about his reputation anymore; all he wanted was to help people who were accused. His reputation means nothing to him after he sees what terrible events are occurring through Salem because of all the accusations that he was part of. Reverend Hale’s faith and his belief in the individual divide him.
Similarly, Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor’s wife, is a cold and quiet victim. Her reputation in the town is only standing because of her husband, John. John Proctor is a well-liked, honorable and respected man throughout Salem. The townsmen only think that because they do not know what horrible sin he has committed, adultery. Elizabeth cares way too much about her husband’s reputation to let anything ruin it. In the beginning of the play, John has an affair with Abigail, but Elizabeth still ended up finding out. Elizabeth does not want to ruin Proctor, his reputation or his life; she keeps it a secret. All she cares about is her husband, she wants the best for him, and would do anything to keep him happy. “Danforth: Look at me! To your own knowledge, has John Proctor ever committed the crime of lechery? Elizabeth: No, sir.”, Elizabeth lied in the court to save John, she even lied to the officials saying that John did not commit adultery, no matter how much it killed her to say the truth. (page 105). That is Elizabeth’s first time lying and unfortunately it was horrible timing. Even though she lies to protect her husband, it actually ends up getting him in more trouble at the end. She feels as if she owed him for not showing enough love and duty. Elizabeth does not worry about her own reputation, she worries and cares for her husband, John Proctor’s reputation.
On the other hand, lack of reputation is also majorly present in the play. Some characters had no worry about where they stood or their reputation. Giles Corey plays a huge role in lack of reputation. He is a strong old man and only recently converted to Christianity. He is likeable, even though he has a great extent of knowledge about the law, “Giles: I am thirty-three time in court in my life. I have never put-upon; I know my rights, sir, and I will have them.” he is not too bright (page 88). Giles’s incredible strength of character is shown in the end when he neither confesses to, nor denies, the charges of witchcraft. By doing this he ensures that his sons can legally inherit his property. Even though he is brutally tortured by having crushingly heavy stones place on his chest, the only thing Giles says is “More weight” (page 121). Giles Corey does not want to admit to false claims or please the court, he wants to die with dignity and for his family.
Arthur Miller introduces and describes the importance of reputation through his main characters. In the play some characters value their reputation and other characters do not seem to care about their reputation as much. Reverend Parris does not care about anything except his reputation and what people think of him. Revered John Hale only cares to find witches so he can withhold the reputation he holds in the Salem society. Elizabeth Proctor only cares about John Proctor’s reputation and will do anything to keep it safe. Giles Corey cares about his family and wants the best for them. The Puritan society is a mess and the struggle of reputation in society played a major roll in the corruption.