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Home » Essay » Essay: The Crucible: The Decision of a Condemned Witch

Death over life- a decision that would no one in their right mind would choose to take. Today, there would be so many other options to take- reasons to live, and that the choice of death would seem almost a sin. On the other hand, if  were to take a trip back in time to the 1600’s, one might find oneself in an entirely different world- where situations and meanings- such as a name, and the simple ways of life are much more different than what one could ever see in our time.  Small things meant so much more then that they could today. Just in the many differences in a few hundred years or so, might be able to more easily justify why they would choose to die. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the reader meets such a man by the name of John Proctor- who they come to favor- who must make this bitter decision based on religious believes, honor and name.

In 1692,  would find themselves in the setting of Puritan New England, the famous setting of the Salem witch trials; New England was a deeply religious area and Salem was no less- it would be quite a feat for John to lie and claim that he was a witch. The life of a puritan settler revolved around the church- it was even considered unwise no to show up for mass… could see it as dangerous; and lying could be nothing less than a strict offense against god. John, as the reader knows, has a hard decision- should he lie and be able to take the fact that he will know for sure that he will be going to hell? Or could he go to rope, honorable and holding out the truth until the very end, and will die pure and free- leaving for heaven? He knew he could never fit back into a religious society afterwards, and knew no matter what he did, he would never be able to make up for the horrible action of breaking of the main offenses against his god. For if he did lie, and went along with every else who have previously d so, he would be returning to a completely different life. Leading a life that large of a sin would leave a lead weight on his shoulders wherever he went, and possibly he would never be able to get over it mentally. If the pressure from religious beliefs and ideology are heavy enough, along with other combined effects, the cause could be straight forward- death.

How could a man like John Proctor, who was looked upon and respected, let his name be ruined and well as already be condemned to hell? He was a man who villagers would look up to, his ideas and thoughts were respected and he was generally thought of as a good man. In other words- his name was clean and white, and he was free to do what he was wished with no dark looks given to him from disapproving people passing by. He was a role model- and that was extremely important to him. The thing that mattered to him the most was his children, and what he appeared to them- a man who has sunk as low as would be doing; he would never be able to feel proud again (Miller 150). Not only that, but once the respected John Proctor had given in, the court would use his confession against him- trying to persuade them into thinking what the court was doing, was indeed the right thing to do. Should the others currently in jail follow his example, and commit their lives to damnati on too?  It is indeed possible that Proctor would take that guilt upon himself, putting it on a body already weighted down with many wrong actions. No only would be misleading people, but his name would be used to support this horrible lie- taking a sin even farther than it originally was. In the time period, a name meant everything to a person, and  could not let another simply let it be whipped all over his face, it held honor and righteousness…and if John would have confessed his named would have been used too far for evil in his mind, that no  could live to commit.

What if, this was all a very bad idea, to die over simple ideas that he could easily look past, letting his scars heal with time? Living in small town would have caused trouble, everyone knew who their neighbors and what they did and had, and there was no evading a past. Other people would have treated him differently from the beginning for a good deal amount of time, and his name would have been scarred for life; the talk and treatment given by others would slow down the healing process for decades. Another thing; Proctor had already created a major sin by having an affair with Abigail. It was already evident those months after the discovery of the affair that he was still not completely, and with the major ordeal the trials and the large effect they would leave on his life- he would never be able to live with himself. Not only that, but his name would be burdened. Today it easy for  to simply leave to a new town or state, lie and start fresh- for records such as crime could be kept a secret. Yet four hundred years ago, it was quite different, travel was hard and in the small world that Proctor lived in, escaping what had happened would be like outrunning rain. So in the end, the guilt would have killed John, what with the many different faces that he took from and placed it upon himself, even if he had evaded the rope.

With all of that combined, if John Proctor had decided to live and confess to the lie of being a witch, the life he would lead soon after would be a miserable. Full of guilt from many different sources; religious, bad names and loss of honor would leave him a very empty person. Perhaps today it would still remain a choice that would make no logical sense, but to Proctor and when he lived, it had a right choice written all over it. But the good part is that he had made the best decision for himself, and went to his death with glory and pride, with no a fleck of guilt on his mind.

Author: Unknown