Piety In The Crucible By Arthur Miller

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During the late nineteenth century, many people living in colonial America followed the theological practices of Protestantism. They lived modest lives with few activities other than farming and devoting their lives to God. This also range true for the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. The people of Salem were some of the most pious protestants in all of Colonial America. While piety is not inherently dangerous to one’s community, the extreme religiosity of the people of Salem would lead to the downfall of the town and some of its most prominent figures, including John Proctor, through the town’s mass hysteria and witch hunt. It was this society Arthur Miller decided to model his play, The Crucible, after, with a few factual liberties …show more content…

One such instance is the scene where Proctor refuses to sign his name to the confession when he learns Judge Danforth plans to post it publicly to the town and he responds no with the answer, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another 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 may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (The Crucible) In this outburst of emotion and panic as he is about to come face to face with his death, Proctor reveals that all he cares about in that moment is his reputation with the other townspeople. He does not care that they are about to put him to death, or even that they have taken his wife away from him and have taken both away from his children, but he does care that they want him to ruin his reputation to justify their immoral and completely wrong trials. This is also evident when Elizabeth says “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!” (The Crucible) Elizabeth is saying that Proctor only had his good name left to him when he decided not to make his confession public, and because she loves him, she does not want to take away the only thing he has left. Henry Popkin also writes that Proctor is shows heavy signs of self-preservation throughout the story stating, “Just because these are …show more content…

Popkin says, “Miller was a somewhat unfriendly witness before a congressional committee in 1956. He described his own flirtation with Communism but refused to give the names of Communists he had known.” (Arthur Miller’s The Crucible) Miller refused to give the committee any information that criminalized himself or his friends, just like Proctor refusing to give any confession that criminalized him and his friends and tarnished his good name. If Miller loosely based Proctor off himself, and he chose self-preservation, Proctor had to have chosen self-preservation as well. Arthur Miller, while Jewish and admittedly so, was still not a very pious person. Nicholas Pagan quotes Miller, “’I don’t write character’s that have a sign on them saying Jew.’” (Arthur Miller and The Rhetoric of Ethnic Self-Expression). Since Miller does not associate himself strongly with religion, and does not actually adhere to Christianity, one can assume that Proctor would never have chosen righteousness and religiosity over himself when he is a fictional representation of

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