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How does Arthur Miller uses the motif of "one's name" or one's integrity throughout the...

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joebirdsell | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:19 PM via web

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How does Arthur Miller uses the motif of "one's name" or one's integrity throughout the play The Crucible?

This is seen especially at the end of Act IV.  What role does "one's name" play in defining Miller's message?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 16, 2012 at 3:18 PM (Answer #1)

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The Crucible is a play about personal honesty.  Do you follow the crowd, or do you be true to yourself—whatever the consequences?

In a world that has gone crazy, a person has to take a personal stand.  John Proctor decides that it is more important to die with his name and integrity intact than to live with the same of lying about who he is.

 The importance of a name is exemplified by Abigail’s reaction to the damage to her reputation when Goody Proctor fires her for having an affair with John.

Abigail, in a temper: My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar! (Act 1)

This is somewhat ironic because Abigail is one of the reasons for the damage to John’s name.

Proctor: Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me! To Danforth: A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that. (Act 2)

In the end, Proctor decides that all he has is his name, and he will not lose it for anyone.

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name?  I have given you my soul; leave me my name! (Act 4)

Proctor is determined to live his life on his own terms.  He will not give in to the hysteria and mass insanity. 

Miller uses this as an example to people to acknowledge the power of the masses in causing people to lose their way.  Individuals have to be strong.

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