Importance of Reputation According to Arthur Miller's Novel

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The Crucible

In the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller there are many things that show there is importance of reputation over life. In the play there is a group of girls who go around accusing innocent people in the town of witchcraft. People then begin to doubt others that they once trusted, and the whole town of Salem gets turned upside down. The importance of reputation over life becomes prevalent when Rebecca Nurse gets hanged to keep her reputation, when Giles Cory dies to keep his reputation as an honest man, and when Proctor fights to keep his name.

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In the play the group of girls had accused Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft. People believe this group of girls, because they had no reason not to. They took Rebecca Nurse to jail and then she was tried for witchcraft. Throughout the process it was ultimately decided that unless Rebecca admitted to witchcraft she would be condemned. Rebecca knew she did not partake in witchcraft. However she also knew that she would die unless she confessed it. Her own reputation became more important to her than having her life by lying to the judge about partaking in witchery. Rebecca decides that she would rather die knowing the truth in her heart rather then confess to the lie that she had committed witchcraft in which she would live with the guilt and bad reputation for the rest of her life. “Why,it is a lie, it is a lie; how may I damn myself? I cannot, I cannot.” (Miller 140). Rebecca says this in response to Danforth asking her to confess. Rebecca sticks to the truth and is condemned for it. She keeps her reputation and decided that her clean reputation was worth more than a life with lies.

The importance of reputation over life is portrayed in the play The Crucible when Giles Corey dies to keep his reputation as an honest man. In the play Giles Corey was on trial because of contempt. There had been a conflict going on with land at the time of the witchcraft trials, but Giles would not give the name of someone to the court. The court decides to stone Giles to try and get the answer out of him but Giles would not give in. In fact as he was getting stoned by the court Giles made the remark “More weight.”(Miller 135) then sadly he died. Giles was killed to keep his reputation as an honest man and did so. Giles decided that his reputation was more important then a life with people unable to trust Giles if he had given in. In the end Giles makes the choice to with hold his information and dies for it. He proves that reputation was more important than his life at that point.

In the play, John Proctor fights to keep his reputation as a good and honest man. John Proctor is accused of witchcraft when he did not commit it. In attempt to save the legitimacy of his word, he confesses to adultery. The court then calls in his wife Elizabeth to see if his confession was actually the truth. However in an attempt to save her husband Elizabeth lied to the court and denied the confession that John committed adultery. The court tried to convince Proctor to sign a confession to committing witchery. They promised Proctor would not be hanged if he had signed the confession. At first John was hesitant but signed it so he could be with his wife. Hawthorne asked John to hand it to him, but John would not. He was asked why he would not give it to him and he said this.“Because it is my name! Because I cannot have any other in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How can I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (Miller 143). Proctor was determined to keep his reputation and his name good and clean. He would not give up his confession and ultimately decided that the importance of his reputation meant more to him than life with everyone knowing he lied to keep his life. John was hanged but died with his reputation and name clean.

In the end many characters in the play “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller that show the importance of reputation over life. The importance of reputation over life is shown when Rebecca Nurse gets hanged to keep her reputation, when Giles Cory dies to keep his reputation as an honest man, and when Proctor fights to keep his name. All of these characters show in some way the importance of their own reputations over their lives. In the end since they were wrongly accused of witchcraft they all ended up dying to protect and preserve their reputations as good people. The author, Arthur Miller is trying to prove that sometimes reputation becomes more important than life in extreme situations.

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