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Depiction of Pride in Arthur Miller’s Play

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Throughout the entirety of our lives, we are taught we should always remain steadfast in what we believe, regardless of the catastrophe, pain, or inconveniences it might bring to those around us. However, this ideal has only misled individuals into thinking they are flawless and never incorrect. Even when their facts have been proven to be inaccurate and their reasoning has been confirmed fallacious, these people cling to their pride and refuse to accept their mistakes. As Sophocles one said, “all men make mistakes,” yet it is not the mistakes that make us malevolent but rather the denial of these errors that make us evil. Although some of us are more prone to make mistakes than others, we are all accomplices to one of today’s most heinous crimes: pride. In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, pride is a shadow cast onto several of Salem’s most prestigious individuals, three of whom are Governor Danforth, the visiting Reverend Hale, and town pastor Parris.

It is often that we find ourselves in a state of internal conflict between what’s right and what’s wrong; however, in consideration to our own personal desires, we ultimately decide to do what’s most beneficial to us. Throughout The Crucible, Salem’s town reverend, Parris, discovers the town’s young women fooling around in the woods, and ultimately accuses them of witchcraft. He does so, however, not because he truly believes it to be true but out of pride. If he were to admit that these girls were prowling the woods at night, undressing, dancing, and singing, his reputation would be tarnished. The townspeople of Salem would view Parris as incapable and would eventually turn him out. When we find ourselves in a predicament, we struggle to make the right decision and, therefore, do everything we can to the best of our abilities to save our own skin. The 37th U.S President Richard Nixon is also guilty of allowing his reputation to consume him, blurring the line between right and wrong. During the 1970s, Nixon and his administration were accused of bugging his political opponent’s offices, ordering unlawful investigations and other clandestine tricks. Instead of admitting to his wrong doings and fixing them, Nixon openly denied the accusations in hopes of protecting his reputation; however, this constant denial resulted in the U.S Congress initiating a process to impeach Nixon, ultimately forcing him to become the first U.S President to resign from the position. Since he would’ve faced much public criticism for involving himself in illegal activities, Nixon refused to confess and ruined his chance of repentance and therefore will never be considered good, but evil, simply because he allowed his pride to overshadow his presidency.

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While pride has the ability to force individuals into lying and denying accusations to protect themselves, it also has the potential to cloud someone’s sense of morale and judgment, regardless of the impending circumstances. In The Crucible, Governor Danforth is a character who, although a judge of supreme power, commits an unforgivable and unrecognizable crime: overcompensation of pride. It is made obvious to many characters of the story- such as John Proctor and Reverend Hale and even the audience- that Danforth is no longer basing his judgment on fact or truth, yet the governor himself pretends to not realize it. Governor Danforth, in fact, has become so overwhelmed with pride, that he not only refuses to accept that he has made a mistake in sentencing previous individuals to death, but has convinced himself that witchcraft exists and therefore doesn’t realize that he isn’t actually doing “what is best for Salem.” Although it often becomes prevalent to those looking inside from the outside that a person is making a mistake, the individual making the mistake is often oblivious to their downfalls. Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has also been a victim of this false minded pretense. Throughout the majority of her candidacy, Clinton openly advocated for the use of government and public funds to ensure debt-free college for upper-education bound individuals; however, many people protested this policy. Clinton continued to support this hopeless initiative. Rather than admitting her mistake in this endeavour and dismissing her advocacy for such a fruitless policy- which would increase taxes and cost of living, making life even more difficult for the “average joe”- Clinton clung to the theory because she truly felt that it would be beneficial to the rest of the United States population.

While it is sometimes beneficial for one to embrace pride, those who do not rely on their pride for security discover in themselves a sense of redemption and contentedness. As seen throughout the latter acts of The Crucible, reverend Hale swallows his pride and pleads to those accused of witchcraft to admit to their actions. His own actions may seem selfish and borne out of fear for his own reputation and pride, he, nonetheless, attempts to redeem himself by beseeching his peers to falsely confess in order to save their lives. Through this redemption, Hale finds the will to live, and go on further to do “God’s work.” Most synonymous to reverend Hale’s character, Bill Clinton has in the past admitted guilt in hopes of protecting those around him and, in a sense, himself. Throughout his eight years as president, Bill Clinton was involved with a short love affair with white house intern Monica Lewinsky. Although Clinton initially denied these accusations, he eventually would go on to swallow his pride and admit his guilt. When receiving heat for the affair however, Clinton never blamed Lewinsky, assuming full responsibility for his actions. Due to the admission of his mistake, Bill Clinton was able to keep his wife, protect his reputation among the public, and ensure himself a life full of publicity.

Throughout the course of history, pride has been cast as the primary antagonist in many of our lives. We often find ourselves in a conflict between accepting a mistake and correcting it or ignoring it and deepening that mishap. Although it may be difficult at first to accept the fact that we are not always right, if we dedicate ourselves to living a life where pride does not rule us, we will soon see how much easier life can be. As Sophocles stated, “a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong.” While it can be contested that “the only crime is pride,” it is the cause of narcissism, disinterest, and contempt between people and themselves. Correcting this overwhelming sense of pride is essential- if not necessary- in correcting our evils, and becoming good, sensible individuals.


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