Crucible Essay, Research Paper
Courage is measured by an individual s willingness to continue fighting even when the
likelihood of victory is small. It is a person s mental or moral strength to resist extreme
difficulty. It is the strength of mind that makes one able to meet danger and difficulties
with firmness. This withstanding opposition to defeat allows a person to persevere
although the probability of triumph is unfavorable. Arthur Miller s The Crucible and
Harper Lee s To Kill a Mockingbird justify this statement.
Arthur Miller exemplifies this definition of courage by the use of
characterization. In Act III of the play, the odds against Proctor are overwhelming. If he
loses the case, he and all the people who support him will be destroyed. For Proctor to
save his wife and friends, he must convince the court that everything it has done so far is
wrong. Proctor is willing to risk everything, including his good name and even his life, to
bring out the truth. Throughout this act, Parris and Cheever act as impediments to John.
Cheever, to deface the reputation of John, mentions that Proctor ripped the warrant when
Elizabeth was arrested and that he plows on Sundays. Parris, in addition, says that
Proctor comes to church but once a month! However, this does not hamper Proctor as
he persists to bring out the truth. Another obstacle that Proctor must surpass occurs when
Abigail and the girls feign that Mary Warren sends out her spirit reinforcing the notion
that Mary is a witch. In response, Proctor confesses his lechery to weaken the perception
of the saintly image of Abigail and to reveal her motive. By avowing his affair with
Abigail, Proctor illustrates his perseverance to save the lives of his wife and friends.
The setting of The Crucible is another element to justify the definition of courage.
The play takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, thirty years after the colony was
established. It was a period of political and religious turmoil. The Puritans settled there
to seek religious freedom and to purify the teachings and ceremonies of the Church of
England. The Puritans believed in strict reinforcement of the laws they found in the
Bible. They accepted little challenge to their religious beliefs, and were intolerant to
other Christian denominations. Paradoxically, their fanatic zeal led them to exercise the
exact kind of repression on others that they had fled England to escape. In addition,
under the Puritan court, the pressure to confess and atone for one’s sins was immense.
Innocent individuals with nothing to confess were subsequently often led to admit to
crimes which they did not commit. However, those who defended the words of the
accused may have been charged as accomplices.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Arthur Miller utilizes characterization to delineate the
epitome of courage, Atticus Finch. Although he is called a nigger-lover , Atticus
defends Tom solely on the basis of justice and does not allow the color of Tom s skin to
prejudice him against Tom s case. The odds are against Tom because Mayella Ewell, a
white woman, has charged him, a black man, with rape. Nevertheless, Atticus refuses to
become intimated, and he defends the young black man. Atticus is a studious man
whose behavior is governed by reason. Once he decides that a given course of action is
right, he perseveres regardless of threats or criticisms.
The setting and point of view are other literary elements that advocate my
Arthur Miller s novel takes place in Maycomb, Alabama, during the early 1930 s. It was
a period of great social change, a time that has a significant influence on the plot. During
this time a system of segregation was in force. Blacks and whites were forbidden to mix
in schools or use the same restrooms or water fountains. Many kinds of jobs were
unavailable to black men, nor were they allowed to serve on juries. Any person whether
black or white who challenged the system of segregation publicly would have been in
serious danger of being killed by prosegregation fanatics. In addition, this novel is told
as a first person narrative through the eyes of Scout. Scout as a young girl, however, is
too young to be aware of all the complexities in the world around her. As a result of
Arthur s Miller use of a naive narrator, Atticus courage is more evident to the reader.
The injustice of the trial and conviction take on an added degree of incongruity simply
because it is presented from the innocent mind of a young girl.
In conclusion, John Proctor and Atticus Finch are paragons of courage. John
Proctor risked everything, including his life, to save the lives of his wife and friends.
Atticus Finch, a man who represents idealism and justice, did not allow a partial society
to impede him from what he thought was just. Both characters exhibited a withstanding
opposition to defeat which allowed them to persevere.