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The Boldness of Courage
“You’re the Devil’s man!” (118), Mary Warren cried out when she
accused John Proctor of working for the devil. Courage is defined as mental
or moral strength to face danger without fear. This is supported in Arthur
Miller’s The Crucible. Throughout the Salem witch trials in the 1600’s,
courage was that good people held in to, even through the toughest times.
To illustrate this, an example of someone with courage is John Proctor.
Proctor is a farmer with a wife, Elizabeth, and three young boys. He quietly
suffers from guilt caused by an affair he had with a young woman named
Abigail Williams. He is contrite and solicitous in his wife’s presence, and he
yearns to regain her respect. John shows his courage when he has to make a
life and death decision to lie and say that he is involved in witchcraft, which
will prevent his execution, or to deny being a witch and be hanged. Proctor,
after being questioned by Judge Danforth about being involved in witchcraft,
stated that he was. Danforth was then having Proctor sign a confession, but
he argued with Danforth saying, “ I have confessed myself! Is there no good
penitence but it be in public? God does not need my name nailed upon the
church! God sees my name; God knows how black my sins are!” (142).
When Danforth would not give up the argument with Proctor to sign the
confession, he asked, “Then explain to me, Mr. Proctor, why will you not let
me have it? “ (143), Proctor answered, “ Because it is my name... Because I
lie and sign myself to lies!... I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”
(143). Danforth then explained to Proctor, if the confession was a lie, he
would not accept it. Proctor, with his breast heaving and his eyes staring, he
tore the confession and crumpled it up, while he wept in fury. Danforth then
ordered for him to be hung “ high over the town “ (143). John Proctor
showed courage for his friends and family and by doing it, helped put an end
to the unfair courts of Salem.
Another good example of with a good deal of courage is Giles Corey.
Giles is a 83-year old landowner who is sturdy, mettlesome, and fiercely
independent. He’s unenlightened and pig-headed, but at the same time,
warm-hearted and undaunted. He reveals himself to be a great man of
awesome courage and will when he would not answer “aye or nay to his
indictment” (135). When Elizabeth Proctor was telling her husband, John,
about it, she explained, “ great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead
aye or nay. They say he give them two words. ‘ More weight’, he says. And
died. “ (135). Giles Corey’s wife, Martha, and all of his friends, had already
been convicted of witchcraft, so he had probably decided that he had nothing
to live for. Giles humbly protested the one-sided courts by sacrificing himself
as an example to his friends to stay strong and to not give up in what they
believed is wrong. John Proctor could have easily used Giles Corey as an
example, because Proctor learned of Giles’ death before he had to make his
decision of confessing or being executed.
The next courageous person in The Crucible is Reverend John Hale.
Reverend Hale is the church authority on demonology. He is summoned to
Salem to find out if Reverend Parris’ daughter Betty, who is suffering from an
unexplained illness, has been hexed by witchcraft. Reverend Hale is proud of
his scholarly expertise, and is glad to come to Salem to give his professional
input on the situation. He displayed acts of courage when he got extremely
frustrated about how unjust and ridiculous Danforth and the trials were, so he
stood up and yelled, “ I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court! “ (120).
Reverend Hale then comes back later to help those convicted by trying to
persuade them to confess and live, rather than be hanged. By doing this,
Reverend Hale shows great moral courage. He gives up everything he has
worked for in his demonology career by going against the court, and trying to
persuade innocent people to confess because he feels horribly responsible for
bringing the hysteria to Salem. Reverend Hale is one of the greatest
examples of moral courage because he puts his reputation on the
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Culture, Religion, Creativity, The Crucible, Salem witch trials, John Proctor, John Hale, Elizabeth Proctor, Mary Warren, Giles Corey, Abigail Williams, Witchcraft
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