Morality And Religious Reputation In The Crucible By Arthur Miller

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In a place where moral and religious reputation is highly valued, what lengths will people go to in order to protect their position in society? In such an environment, people fear damage to their public reputation through association with the sins of their neighbors and will protect themselves through any means necessary. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, a play set in the Puritan village of Salem, Massachusetts, disturbing occurrences, attributed to the devil and witchcraft, contributed to villagers accusing one another of consorting with spirits. Fear of damage to public reputation, old grudges and jealousy generated hysteria among the residents faced with potential charges of witchcraft. In this frightening environment, individuals acted …show more content…

Deputy Governor of Massachusetts, Judge Danforth, is a presiding judge of the Salem witch trials, and although he ultimately doubts the truthfulness of the girls, he is able to force others to defend themselves against charges that they are in opposition to the court. In the climate of hysteria surrounding the witch trials, power resides with those who can maintain the court’s absolute authority, as he emphasizes to Francis Nurse, “But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between”(94). Danforth sustains his position based on the idea that the court is infallible but compromises his religious and legal beliefs as a result. When Mary Warren supports John Proctor by testifying that the girls were not engaged in witchcraft, Danforth and Parris question if Proctor desires to subvert the court(88). Danforth desires to maintain the power, authority and integrity of the court, even though he questions Abigail’s truthfulness, examining her sincerity, “Is it possible, child, that the spirits you have seen are illusion only, some deception that may cross your mind when--”(108). After Abigail’s accusation that Mary is sending her spirit into them, causing a hysterical scene in the court, Danforth’s doubts grow about the girls’ truthfulness, but he allows the trials to continue on false evidence, forsaking his moral authority, to protect his position as Deputy Governor of Massachusetts. Only the ultimate punishment for those accused of consorting with the devil will satisfy the desire to maintain civil and religious order of the

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