The Importance Of Guilt In Arthur Miller's The Crucible

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Guilt often thought of as a misfortune, is actually a moral quality of a dependable and loyal person. It is usually the result of a sin, and is a companion of deception. Guilt has the potential to consume an individual’s mind to the point of changing their nature. In The Crucible, although John Proctor is a Godly and trustworthy man, he commits a sin that transforms him into a deceptive person. The reader can see this change in his demeanor. Proctor becomes a quiet man, who walks around as if he has something to hide. He not only struggles internally with his guilty conscience, but it affects his day to day life with the people surrounding him as well. The final affect of guilt on Proctor reverses his moral compass back to the truthful person …show more content…
During his trial, he emphasizes this by saying, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life... How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name” (Miller 143). It is here that Proctor illustrates the extreme importance of his integrity to himself. Jean-Marie Bonnet states, “For Proctor, his ‘name’ does not only mean reputation, but truth to oneself and others. When he refuses to give away other people’s names it is because he ‘likes not to spoil their names’, and when he refuses to ‘sign his name’, it is to save his own integrity before God and himself” (Bonnet 36). Not only is Proctor’s own integrity important to him, but also the image created in another’s mind when hearing of a “Proctor” has an enormous influence on his final decision to not confess to witchcraft in the final trial. Proctor was willing to sacrifice his life, in order to save the Proctor name for his sons in the generation to come. In the Readings on The Crucible, Thomas Siebold states, “-he sacrifices himself in order to save others and to stage a protest against his persecutors. He is driven by the impulse to preserve his integrity as well as by the need to expiate his sin” (Siebold 71). The importance of John’s reputation to himself directly ties to the guilt felt by him daily due to his poor decision he made in the past that lead to a reprehensible …show more content…
He expresses the truth when he states, “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it” (Miller 141). Before the fallacy of witchcraft was brought about in Salem, John had a different outlook on honesty compared to his outlook at the final trial. The reader can infer this by analyzing the change in his quality of honesty in that time period. David Sundstrand proves this when he states, “Yet Proctor refuses to let the court keep his signed confession for it is hard evidence of a lie. Proctor insists on the truth even if it means his destruction” (Sundstrand 5). In the end, Proctor is able to see past all the lies, and metaphorically, put all of the puzzle pieces together. Including the piece that contains Abigail’s evil games. Carl Rollyson supports this when he states, “Although he is estranged from his wife, who knows of his liaison with Abigail, Proctor resists Abigail’s advances, knowing that the consequence will be that he and his wife will stand accused of witchcraft” (Rollyson 2). The truth has set John Proctor free from the evil lurking in Salem. Although he had to sacrifice his life, his longing for the truth was the most beneficial factor in preserving his reputation and redeeming himself in his own

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