The Crucible Theme of Respect and Reputation
(Click the themes infographic to download.)
Reputation is extremely important in a town where social standing is tied to one’s ability to follow religious rules. Your good name is the only way you can get other people to do business with you... or even get a fair hearing.
Of course, reputation meant nothing when a witchcraft accusation was staring you in the face. But reputation is what made the Reverend Hale begin to doubt whether the accused individuals were actually guilty. And it was for the sake of his reputation and his friends’ reputations that John Proctor refused to sign a false confession. He would, quite literally, rather die.
Questions About Respect and Reputation
- Why is reputation so important to the people of Salem? What happens if you lose your good reputation (before the witch-hunt)?
- In what ways is a good reputation in the play similar to the way we think of it today? In what ways is it different?
- What are some of the factors (lust and greed being two obvious ones) that cause people to ignore the good reputations of their neighbors?
Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
Although John Proctor goes to his death falsely condemned as a witch, he gains his reputation and respect among those who matter, like his wife, because he refuses to falsely identify his friends and neighbors as witches.
The loss of Abigail’s reputation toward the end of the play shows that characters in The Crucible eventually earn the reputations they deserve, despite the personal tragedies that might take place along the way.
Reputation Of The Crucible Essay
Throughout the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, one?s name is a very important motif that is carried out. Reputation is the general estimation in which a person is held by the public, as referred to by dictionary.com. Reputation is very important in Salem because public and private moralities are one and the same. Witchcraft plays a huge role throughout the book and if someone is being named a witch then that is a huge sin to Puritanism. Reputation is a huge key factor to even everyone?s daily life. As a young teenager in high school, a teen would like their reputation to be positive so that people think highly of that person. Same goes with the play The Crucible. Focused on maintaining public reputation, the people in the town of Salem must fear that the sins of their friends and associates will taint or ruin their names. Many characters for example John Proctor and Reverend Parris, base their actions on the desire to protect their personal reputation.
When the play first begins, Parris fears that Abigail, his niece, is convicted of being a witch because of her intolerable actions, and the witchcraft that associates with his daughter?s coma will cause much chaos and bring down his power as a Reverend in Salem. Parris feels that power and reputation is the most important thing to him as a Reverend and as a townsperson in Salem. For example on page 30 Parris shrieks, ?I want a mark of confidence, is all! I am your third preacher in seven years. I do not wish to be put out like the cat whenever some majority feels the whim. You people seem not to comprehend that a minister is the lord?s man in the parish; a minister is not to be so lightly crossed and contradicted.? Parris thinks that because he is a Revered, he has automatic power, but if anything were to interfere with his authority, it would cause a huge decline in his power leading to his reputation being ruined.
John Proctor, a farmer who lives outside the town has an affair with Abigail who is just a teenager, is frightened to expose such a thing; he is afraid his name will be ruined. Earlier on in the play, Proctor has a chance to put a stop to the girls being accused of witchcraft; instead he wants to keep his reputation from testifying against Abigail. John Proctor makes many decisions of not going ahead and doing something about it because he is afraid that his reputation is at risk. Towards the end of the play The Crucible, Proctors desire to keep and maintain his good name, leads him to make a courageous choice, by not giving into a faulty confession which leads to his death....
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