Examples Of Shame In The Scarlet Letter And The Crucible

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Brene Brown once said that "shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It's the fear that we're not good enough" (Shame Quotes). Shame is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a "painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour" (Shame Definition). In Puritan society, people felt shame due to the strict moral code that was enforced because people would inevitably break it at some point throughout their lives. In both stories, the characters Arthur Dimmesdale from The Scarlet Letter and John Proctor from The Crucible share the feeling of internal shame because they are adulterers and can only liberate themselves by confessing their sins. However, both men have different reasons behind their …show more content…
He, however, feels shame for a different underlying reason but cannot confess because it will ruin his good name, and he handles that shame that he feels in a completely different way. To begin, Proctor is compunctious because he has committed adultery upon his wife, Elizabeth. However, there is another explanation for the guilt that he faces; he feels as though he has betrayed Elizabeth. He knows that he has ruined his once pure marriage and it destroys him emotionally because of this. When he speaks to Elizabeth about the tension within the household, he says that he has “gone tiptoe in this house all seven month since she is gone” (Miller 54). This is important because it highlights that Proctor has been watching his every word or action in order to try and make amends with his wife by rebuilding the trust once shared between them. When he does this, it reveals that he feels awful for turning away from her and wants to fix what they had between them again. So, unlike Dimmesdale, who felt as though he betrayed God by committing adultery, Proctor is more ashamed that he has abandoned his own wife. Proctor also knows that he is the sole reason that Elizabeth is accused of witchcraft, which is another reason why Proctor feels as though he has betrayed his spouse. He knows that the affair that Abigail and himself had is the entire motivation Abigail has for trying to get rid of Elizabeth and therefore the reason she is accused. So, Proctor actually has two reasons for feeling shame, but both tie back to him feeling as though he has abandoned and disappointed his wife in some way. This could be either for breaking their trust or for causing her to be accused of witchcraft. Similar to Dimmesdale, Proctor cannot confess what he has done and cannot tell anyone because it will ruin his name in Salem. In fact, when Proctor is told to sign the document stating that he

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