Moral Courage From The Crucible Essay, Research Paper
In 1952, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller was written. This
play is viewed by many as a condemnation of McCarthyism, now
seen as a modern-day witch hunt, or the prosecution of people
accused without proper cause, who are forced to conform to
society to avoid public denunciation. The Crucible is based on one
of the strangest and most dreadful events in American history, the
Salem witch trials of 1692. During this time many innocent people
were put to death. Throughout this play, there are shown the
many different effects this witch hunt had on individuals, as well
as families. Some of these people truly have moral courage and will
not conform to this society?s belief of witchery. Rebecca Nurse,
Giles Corey, Reverend Hale, and John Proctor all show their
personal moral courage through their words and actions.
Throughout the play Rebecca Nurse?s morals are quite clear
through her behavior, both silent and verbal. In Act I there is a
fore-shadowing of Rebecca?s suspicion of the girls accusations.
When she first enters the room of ?sick? Betty, she stands over the
child gently, and then sits off to the side. When asked what she
thinks of Betty?s condition she replies ?I think she?ll wake when she
tires of it?. Thus implying she dose not believe the sickness to be
real, but mere acting. Rebecca is charged in Act II, not only for
witchcraft, but ?for the marvelous and supernatural murder of
Goody Putnam?s babies.? After being charged with such an
outrageous account Rebecca does not speak of any sort of witchery.
She ?fears nothing? because ?another judgment awaits us all.? She
will not bend her morals to please the court, even if it will save her
Giles Corey through his moral courage showed that he was
not only looking out for himself, but also for the welfare of others.
Throughout the play Giles fights with John Proctor to help show the
court the girls false accusations. When Giles Corey is accused of
witchery in Act III he will not offer a plea of guilty or not guilty to
the court. Not only is this a sign of ignoring this madness, it is also
because if he does not make a plea then they can not try him and
can not take away his land. He wants to keep his land for this
son-in-law. When Giles is asked to reveal the name of the man who
gave him information to disprove the charges he says ?I cannot
give you his name? because Giles knows if his name should be given
then ?he shall lay in jail for it?. Because of Giles Corey?s moral
courage and for standing up to the court he eventually is
physically crushed to death, but his soul is never broken.
Reverend John Hale of Beverly is introduced into Act I as a
?tight-skinned, eager-eyes intellectual?, being called upon as a
specialist in witchcraft. When Hale arrives in Salem he gives off a
sense of arrogance. Hale is a gentleman of the court and is sent to
learn about the accused persons. After seeing many charades and
talking to some of the townspeople, especially John Proctor and
Giles Corey, he starts to doubt the authenticity of the ?bewitched?
girls accusations. He hits bottom when Mary Warren accuses
John Proctor. At this point he ?denounces these proceedings,?
and quits this court!? He can no longer be part of these immoral
John Proctor?s moral standing is not as much shown until the
play is unfolded a bit. John Proctor is a hard working farmer with
three boys, and a wife, Elizabeth. John is outraged in Act I when
the court officials come to his home and take his wife for trial.
John Proctor is sure he can free his wife by showing the truth
through their maid Mary Warren. But this all turns against him
when Mary accuses John on witchery as well. When John is
thrown into jail many people, including Reverend Hale, beg him
just to confess to witchery. At first John signs the confession, but
refuses to have it nailed to the door of the church for the public to
see, for he ?has three children- how may I teach them to walk like
men in the world.? His name is everything. He has given them his
soul, he feels they have to need for his name. So in the fight for
moral standings he dies, and has ?his goodness now.?
The play, The Crucible, based on the Salem witch trials, truly
shows the many sides of this cruel and extraordinary time in
American history. People were taking secret vengeance on their
own neighbors, and so called friends. Although we often see the bad
side of this amoral event, there were those who stood up to these
immoral doings, and even died for them.