Crucible Essay Research Paper Courage is measured

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.


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