The Crucible there are many themes floating around. One of the most notable themes is the importance of a good name. To several of the characters the only matter of importance seems to be their name and what it seems to be associated with. Amongst this dialog we find that because the hysterical environment of Salem causes persecution of calumny became a common fear of a good, respectable name to be tarnished. Early in the play we are introduced with our first couple of victims due to the infamous fear.
Our first encounter is with Abigail when Reverend Parris questions her about as to why Elizabeth Proctor had fired her Abigail responds “My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar! ” We can see here that she believes that Goody Proctor is trying to spoil her name due to the belief that she had been having an affair with John. As the play continues it is evident how she accuses other people of witchcraft so that her name is in the light and she is absolved from partaking in the witchcraft herself.
Though it seems that Abigail’s only worry is her name, she is very dissembling. We later find out that her name seems to only be the light of her worries. Her main motive is to rid John of Elizabeth so that she can freely be with John. Her uncle, Reverend Parris, is naive to her hidden motives for false accusations. It isn’t much longer in the story when we find Abigail’s uncle, Reverend Parris is also sporting this same worry when we read a conversation between him and a trusted villager Thomas Putnam. Due to Betty, Parris’s Daughter who has fallen ill, and the village is suddenly buzzing with slander of witchcraft.
In a conversation with Thomas Putnam it is apparent how this affects Parris. “Thomas, Thomas, I pray you, leap not to witchcraft. I know that you-least of all, Thomas, would ever wish so disastrous a charge laid upon me. We cannot leap to witchcraft. They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my house. ” This shows that Reverend Parris is almost more caught up in what people think of him rather than how daughter, Betty Parris, is doing or rather how the Doctor, who has found nothing to cure her, will solve her illness.
Parris is now continuously accusing his least faithful parishioners with having a contract with the devil. One of which is John Proctor, the man Abigail is having an affair with. John Proctor is known as a rebel in this story. Though a good Christian he rarely makes it into Parris’ Sunday Masses because he is working in the field and he doesn’t want to hear of Parris’ weekly ranting of the devil and hell. It is because of this reputation his wife is among the accused of witchcraft. When he tries to defend her he reluctantly admits to lechery.
John Proctor was very reluctant to admit this because he wanted his name to stay respected. When judge Danforth doesn’t believe him they ask his wife Elizabeth if this is true. Unknowing that he had confessed and trying to respect his wishes of keeping a good name she says that she doesn’t believe that he had ever had an affair with Abigail Parris. When Abigail turns on Marry Warren, Marry Warren turns on John Proctor calling him the Devil’s Man. This causes his arrest and accusation of Witchcraft.
Proctor’s importance of a good name is most portrayed in the last act, Act V, when he is begged to save himself by signing a confession sheet. He finally refuses to sign it saying that “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! ” John Proctor is the epitome of wanting to preserve his name. He willingly dies to preserve his name.
In the story of The Crucible, Arthur Miller is able to illustrate the importance of a good name through many of the characters. We were easily able to convey this theme and build off of it. Since many of the characters’ main objective was too keep their name in good light we were able to better understand the reasons behind their actions, helping us receive a better understanding of the story.