Trial Essay to Arthur Miller: “The Crucible”
The following trial essay argues that the play “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller proves that the statement “losing your name means losing your identity, reputation and dignity” is true. To prove this point, the analysis will focus on the fourth act and the consideration of the symbolic of names as well as for what names stand for. Furthermore I will concentrate on the character Rebecca Nurse, Abigail, Tituba but mainly John Proctor, and their roles in this act.
Act four begins several months after the previous act in the jail one day before John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and some others are to be hanged. The day of the hanging is a turning point in the trials. It is the first time in which important people with actually good reputations are going to be hanged.
Firstly, we will focus on Rebecca Nurse and her role in general as well as her role in the fourth act. Rebecca Nurse is the “good soul” (Act 1, p.34) in Salem, as Reverend Hall calls her. Nearly everyone in Salem, the village she lives in, like and respect her because of her good ideals and her kindness. Based on this her reputations in the community she lives in are good. Reverend Hall speaks for the community as he says “We have all heard of your great charities in Beverly” (Act 1, p.34). The only exeption is the Putnam family, expecially Ann Putnam, who accuses Nurse a which and a murderer of her children (Act 2, p. 67). She is the reason for Nurses stay in the jail. In the moment she got sent to the jail all her good reputations are gone, her identity as a ealier mentioned “good sould” are gone as well just because her name is named. Aside from many other people like Abigail or John Proctor, she does not forcedly try to maintain her good name.
Secondly, I’m going to approach the character Abigail. Abigail is an important person in Salem. In “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you” (Act 1, pg. 20), she, on the one hand, shows how important it is for her to maintain to have a good name, on the other hand, shows how much respect she has and how high her status and her reputation have risen throughout the play. She made herself a respected and important identity for Salem. Because of that her power rises in the community.
Speaking of power it is relevant to mention Tituba. She is a slave and has the lowest status in Salem. Even though she has that status, she had the power to decide over the people that were called whiches. Before the which trial that people, mentionable is, that one of them is Rebecca Nurse, had more power than her. That shows again, that your identity, your reputation and your dignity as well as your power get lost if your names get named.
Lastly, I’m going to focus on John Proctor. Before the hanging Proctor is not sure what he should do because he does not see himself as a good person since he committed adultery and, in the beginning, did not speak out against Abigail. He admits that he worked for satan even though his confession seems not reliable because he can not mention any co-workers of him. Finally Proctor can not sign the confession because of his name. He says „Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies!(…). Because I’m not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul: leave me my name! (Act 4, pg. 124). This quote empowers the symbolism of the name and shows how important his name is for him. It is a situation in which Proctor has to choose between two sides. Either his life or the life of his family. This wrong confession would put a shame on his name. In the end he gets hung because he rather posesses a good name with identity, dignity and reputation than a stained name. But he does not just think of himself, he thinks of the name because of Elizabeth, his wife, and his children. Everyone would stain their name by saying that their father/husband is a which for the rest of their lives.
In fact Proctor is a good man with good attitudes. While he confesses his involvement in witchcraft he does not mention any other names. It is about his faults and his honesty and not about staining other names.
The role of names in Salem’s society and precise. As earlier mentioned they stand for identity, dignity, reputation and power. Everyone in the community tries to maintain their good personalities by not having their names named. Especially because Salem is such a small village, a stained name can destroy somebodys reputation completely as we can see in the case of Proctor.
A theme that occurs troughout the play is the theme of witchcraft. At the time of the play, in 1692, a religious movement called Puritanism existed. It was a movement that was originally established in England but they Puritans founded Puritanism societies in America as well. They have strict guidelines in their social order that allow no personal freedom nor individuality. If somebody performs witchcraft, it is seen as stepping out of the social order and being individual. In “You must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world” (Act 3, pg. 85), the Puranism gets obvious. You have to follow the Puritanism guidelines or you are against the system.
As a member of the Salems society you do not want to be seen as a person that steps out of the social order. Therefor it is important to maintain your identity, reputation and dignity. And to maintain these personality traits it is unavoidable to have your name unstained.
To sum it up, the statement that “losing your name means losing your identity, representation and dignity” confirmed troughout the essay. 1095
Trial Essay to Arthur Miller: “The Crucible”