Conflicts of adultery, land disputes, and greed swept the town of Salem in The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller. However, the major conflict would be choosing between morality and life. A total of twenty characters were executed. As seen, deaths were a recurring tragedy littered throughout the Salem community that many characters had to deal with. Three noteworthy characters, Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor had to make countless choices that decided their future. Miller used these three characters as role models in Salem, and illustrated that not improvising their morals was more important than the consequence of death.
Through the deaths of Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor, Miller showed that having integrity, honor, and courageousness could be difficult at times and have dire consequences. Rebecca Nurse is a character who constantly displays integrity, acting as a role model for others to follow. For example, Miller stated that “the general opinion of her character was so high that to explain how anyone dared cry her out for a witch– and more, how adults could bring themselves to lay hands on her” (Miller 26).
The community respected Rebecca, and knew her to have much integrity. Her reputation particularly was one that other people envied and this new was one of the many consequences of her integrity. People knew about her outstanding reputation, and sought to tarnish it by falsely accusing her of performing witchcraft. The people knew that if they ruined her reputation, it might make themselves look better, because reputation back then was highly regarded. They believed that if they had a good reputation, then they would be free from danger.
Rebecca integrity was directly involved with how she was treated, and since people ere Jealous of her, they were more likely to accuse her of witchcraft, leading to deadly consequences. Rebecca displayed her integrity when she made the difficult choice to refuse to confess that she exercised witchcraft to Par’s. Paris stated that “Rebecca have not given me a word this three month since she came” (Miller 125), confused as to why she would not say anything. Paris even pushed harder, thinking that Rebecca would budge, but she did not.
The decision not to admit to witchcraft was difficult on Rebecca part because she knew that the consequence of not talking was death. She would have to leave her husband behind, as well as her kids, and all for what? Rebecca thought that if she admitted to witchcraft and soiled her name, it would be a fate worse than death, which is why she did not confess. When her integrity was tested, Rebecca realized she wanted to keep it, and die knowing she was still herself. Giles Corer’s honor was first seen in the courtroom when he was defending his wife.
Giles indirectly accused his own wife of witchery when he said that she was one of the only women to read books. He did not mean for this to happen, and felt terrible that it did, knowing that it may lead to her death. In an effort to defend his wife, he barged into the courtroom, explaining “[she] is my third wife sir.. It were no witch I blamed her for. I have broke charity with the woman, I have broke charity with her” (Miller 86). It was difficult for Giles to admit he was wrong, and many people in the Salem community would not have done what Giles did, which is why he would be seen as a role model.
Although Giles, trying to save his wife, demonstrated his honorability and showed people how to act, it put Giles Corey on the radar, giving people ideas that maybe since Martha, his wife, was a witch, he loud be too. The consequence of his honor, in attempting to defend his wife, resulted in his impending death. When Giles Corey was formally accused of witchcraft, he neither confessed nor denied the witchcraft charges, wanting to protect his sons. If Giles confessed to witchcraft, the government would have seized his land, but by not saying anything upon this matter, it would ensure that his land legally go to his sons.
While Giles, Putnam, and Detonator were taking in court, Giles said “If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up his property– that’s law! ” (Miller 96). The same law would apply to Giles if he said anything about witchcraft, so he kept quiet and hoped his land would go to his sons. This was a very difficult decision for Giles Corey, because Just like Rebecca Nurse, he had to choose between living, knowing he went against his own morals, or dying, keeping his honor with him.
He wanted to protect his sons and know that they would be safe and comfortable in the future, especially because their mother was also no longer alive. Miller uses Giles Corey as a principal example of a man who displays honor, as well as a role model to the Salem community, whom others should strive to be. He gave up his life in order to protect many others, took responsibility for his mistakes, knowing the consequences would be deadly, and made difficult decisions regarding his family. Giles Corer’s morals were tested, and Just as Rebecca Nurse’s, he decided that he would rather die than compromise himself.
John Proctor first demonstrated his courageousness when he told the court about his affair with Abigail publicly, because he felt terrible about what he did and tried to get his wife back. John explained to the court that the affair with Abigail happened “on the last night of my Joy, some eight months past”, and that “[Abigail] used to serve me in my house” (Miller 110). He said these words regretfully, and knew that it was a mistake to cheat on his wife, especially with someone like Abigail with her bad reputation.
At this time, John’s wife Elizabeth was in Jail for Abigail accusations of Elizabethan witchcraft, so in an attempt to free his wife from Jail and earn her forgiveness, Proctor admitted to having an affair with Abigail, hoping that this would show that Abigail only accused Elizabeth of witchcraft because she was Jealous of her. It was a difficult task admitting publicly o adultery, which gained him additional respect in the community. Unfortunately, Elizabeth did not know that John told the court the truth, so she told Detonator that John lied when he confessed to the affair.
The consequences of John’s confession were drastic, causing people to accuse him of witchery, condemning both him and his wife. John Proctor’s courage was tested when he got charged with the practice of witchcraft. He refused to admit to witchery, Just like Rebecca Nurse, which was a courageous act. He stated that he would not confess to witchcraft and ruin his name “because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!.. How may I love without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! (Miller 143). He does not care so much about his reputation, but that his name will be associated with witches. Multiple times, he said how he did not believe in witches, which is another reason he would not confess to it. John Proctor had to make a difficult choice about his death, Just as Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey had to do. Proctor did not want to tarnish his name or lose the respect that he worked for, and his status in the Salem community as a role model, ultimately all leading to his death.
Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor all exhibit traits that made them well-respected role models throughout the play. Even though their deaths did occur, it raised awareness to the people of Salem to the numerous executions accumulating of innocent people. Miller makes the point that at this time in Salem, the “good” people died and the “bad” people lived, so the only way people thought they could survive was to let go of one’s integrity, honor, and courage. Perhaps, if people had not lied, and everyone behaved as Rebecca, Giles, and John did, then innocent people may not have died.