Honor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

Honor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

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Honor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible


Honor can be defined by how one holds them in the public eye. Others may say that honor is how you live your life when none can see your actions. However defined honor can play major roles in how a person will act in a given situation. The Crucible by Arthur Miller has excellent examples of how honor can manipulate people’s decisions in times of importance. John proctor holds his moral standpoint and does not falter into the temptations of selfishness, while Elizabeth would describe honor as how a person lives their lives. Some can even describe honor as what is most important in life; family. Giles believed that his life was the ultimate object he could sacrifice to maintain his family’s happiness. However honor can be defined, one thing is certain; Everyone has some degree of honor in their lives.
John Proctor was a man who had internal conflicts that tested his moral values. In the beginning of the book the fact that he has feelings for a Mrs. Abigail Williams is brought to light when Proctor and his wife, Elizabeth are having a conversation: “
Elizabeth, ‘reasonably’: John, have you ever shown her somewhat of contempt? She cannot pass you in the church but you will blush-
Proctor: I may blush for my sin.
Elizabeth: I think she sees another meaning in that blush (59).” Elizabeth knows that there may be something going on between Proctor and Abigail. But proctor feels like he has to keep honor to his household and so he keeps everything that he feels inside and tries to hide it from his wife. Proctor does redeem himself by the end of the book. Where he refuses to have his name be used as a flag to be displayed as a symbol of the trials. This is most prominent when he is telling the judge, “
Proctor: You will not use me! I am no Sarah Good or Tituba, I am John Proctor! You will not use me! It is no part of salvation that you should use me!
Danforth: I do not wish to-
Proctor: I have three children- how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?
Danforth: you have not sold your friends-
Proctor: Beguile me not! I blacken all of the when this is nailed to the church the very day they hang for silence!(137)” Proctor is now realizing what they want to do with the confession.

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And he could have easily signed it and had been set free but then his friends that signed the petition would have been put on trial for be affiliated with a witch. So Proctor decides that he would rather die with honor than have his friends suffer for his lies. His change in how he views honor is evident throughout the book.
If we were able to ask Elizabeth how she would define honor, she would most likely say that honor is how one carries themselves in their daily routine even when no one is around to pass judgment but God. Even when her husband committed adultery with Abigail Williams, she is able to keep a cool head and not react in a way that would strip her family’s name of honor. She confronts proctor and he fights back to try to salvage what little honor she has left in him and usually ends with Proctor yelling at her to not be so judgmental. She also looses all faith in him and by the end of the book its very clear. When she states that she “..do[es] not judge you[Proctor]…(53)” when they are talking about him being with Abigail alone and at the end of the book, “ …I am not your judge…(133).” She is saying that it is not her place to say whether or not what he is doing is wrong, but it is up to a ‘higher’ judge. She also knows that she cant stop Proctor from seeing Abigail but she can make him see what he is doing by telling it to his face for him to hear from his wife, “ with a smile to maintain her dignity: John, if it were not Abigail that you must go to hurt, would you falter now? I think not (52).” Elizabeth is telling proctor that if it were some random person that came from the town, he would have no problem prosecuting against them in court. But since its Abigail, he doesn’t want to go and get her accused and hanged. Arthur never really reveals the deep values of Elizabeth as much as the other characters. But we still know that her morals were based upon the gospel.
Giles Corey was known to hold his family up so high that he was willing to give his life to make his family happy. In the courtroom, if he were to have confessed to being a witch, he would have been dead the next week. If he denied it, he was obviously lying and would be dead the next week. Both ways would have left his farm being handed over to the local government. So to make sure that his family would be kept happy, he didn’t say anything. He was killed but he was able to keep his family happy. “…he died Christian under the law…(129)” this shows that Giles was able to die with his honor and he knew that his family would not be homeless because of the era of madness in their city.
Honor can be defined by how one holds them in the public eye. Others may say that honor is how you live your life when none can see your actions. However defined honor can play major roles in how a person will act in a given situation. From whether or not someone is around to judge us, or we are alone. Honor can shape the very decisions without us even being aware of it in the first place. As time goes on, honor may still be defined with the same words from the same viewpoints in life. And morals follow the flow of honor into our decision making skills.
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