A man will not cast away his good name. This is a line from The Crucible, spoken by Elizabeth Proctor. In the play, the characters are faced with a difficult choice: to tell the truth and risk everything, or to lie and keep their lives.
Elizabeth Proctor knows that her husband, John, has committed adultery. She also knows that if she tells the truth about it, he will be killed. But she cannot bring herself to lie, even to save his life.
Elizabeth believes that a man’s good name is more important than his life. And she is willing to sacrifice anything to protect it.
Many people today would agree with Elizabeth Proctor. They would say that a man’s reputation is more important than his life. And they would be willing to sacrifice anything to protect it.
The moment when Elizabeth tells a lie in order to preserve her husband’s life features dramatic irony. This happens when first John Proctor refers to Abigail as a whore and, despite the shame he felt, exposes his affair with her. Danforth cannot fathom that the 17-year-old girl is really a “whore,” so he asks Goody Proctor to come up and verify this allegation.
If she does not vouch for her husband, then he will be hanged as a lecher. When Elizabeth is questioned by Judge Danforth, she does not hesitate to protect John and says that he is a good man. The lie creates more problems because now Elizabeth has to perjure herself in front of the court. The situation becomes unbearable when John learns that his wife lied and demands that she tell the truth.
Elizabeth’s decision to save her husband at any cost shows her great character. Although she knows that telling a lie is wrong, she is willing to do it in order to keep John alive. This selfless act ultimately destroys their relationship, but Elizabeth does not regret her decision. In the end, John Proctor chooses to die rather than give in to the court and falsely confess. He knows that if he does so, he will lose his good name and Elizabeth will never be able to forgive him. Although his death is tragic, John Proctor dies as a honest man.
When Elizabeth swears that John is a trustworthy individual before she enters the court, he vows that she is an honest woman. When she refuses to accuse him of adultery to save his life, there is a contrast because she was supposed to be loyal. They both risk their reputation in order to preserve each other’s lives in different ways: John confesses his crime, and Elizabeth lies.
The effects of their actions contrast as well. By confessing, John is able to save his own life and also protect Elizabeth from being convicted as a witch. However, by lying, Elizabeth not only protects John but also keeps her good name. The community views her as an honest woman and she is able to continue living with that reputation. In the end, John and Elizabeth’s decision to risk their good names reflects the different things they value: John values his life more than his good name while Elizabeth places a higher importance on her good name.
Though both John and Elizabeth Proctor risk their good names in The Crucible, they do so for different reasons and with different consequences. While John confesses his sin to save his own life, Elizabeth lies to protect both her husband and her own reputation.
The different choices they make reflect the different things they value: John values his life more than his good name, while Elizabeth places a higher importance on her good name. In the end, both John and Elizabeth are able to maintain their good names, though at different costs. While John loses his life, Elizabeth is able to keep hers and continue living with the community’s respect.
Miller demonstrates the drama and irony in two key aspects of Proctor’s situation. First, Proctor makes one desperate attempt for this authority by overcoming his desire to protect his reputation and revealing his own personal disgrace. Even though he knows that confessing his lechery with Abigail would bring humiliation and severe punishment upon himself and his family, he prefers to preserve the reputation and life of his wife at the cost of both honor and integrity.
The second relevant aspect is that, by lying, Elizabeth protects her husband’s good name and, as a result, his life. The irony is that the man who tries to save his good name ends up losing it while the woman who tries to protect her husband’s good name ends up helping him preserve it.
In The Crucible, Miller shows us that a man will not cast away his good name lightly. Proctor is a man of integrity who is unwilling to lie, even to save his own life. He knows that confessing to a crime he did not commit would damage his reputation and bring shame upon himself and his family.
Elizabeth also knows the importance of her husband’s good name. She is willing to sacrifice her own reputation in order to protect her husband’s. The irony is that, in the end, it is Proctor’s good name that is preserved and Elizabeth’s that is tarnished. But, as Miller shows us, a man’s good name is worth more than his life.
Proctor exposes himself in court to persuade Danforth to believe him and not Abigail, who was denying it. He wants to shift the blame for his wife’s suspected guilt onto his own shoulders, with the goal of bringing down the dismissed servant as a result. In addition, before irritated court officials demand that Elizabeth Proctor find out if John and Abigail were having an affair and check his fidelity, Proctor confidently states: “She has never lied in her life, sir.”
The man is trying to prove not only his honesty but also the fact that his wife is an honest person. The statement about Elizabeth’s virtue becomes more important when John confesses that he had an affair with Abigail. The confession can be easily seen as an act of desperation because it makes Proctor look like a liar. The situation gets even worse when Proctor refuses to name the other people involved in the witchcraft…
In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, John Proctor is put in a position where he has to choose between his good name and his life. He has been accused of witchcraft and is facing execution if he does not confess. However, if he does confess, he will lose his good name. In the end, Proctor chooses to die with his good name intact.
There are several reasons why Proctor chooses to die rather than confess. First, he does not want to give the court any more fuel for their witch hunt. If he confesses, it will only add to the hysteria and more innocent people will be put to death. Second, Proctor knows that if he confesses, he will be giving up his own integrity and self-respect. He would rather die than live with that shame. Finally, Proctor wants to set an example for his children. He wants them to know that there is more to life than just living – there is also living with honor and dignity.
Proctor’s decision to die rather than confess is admirable, but it is also tragic. He knows that his death will likely mean the deaths of others, as the witch hunt continues. But he is willing to make that sacrifice in order to preserve his own integrity and set an example for his children. In the end, Proctor’s decision is both heroic and selfless.