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Discuss how The Crucible is essentially about courage, weakness, and truth.

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MufasaBruhh | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 21, 2013 at 4:19 PM via web

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Discuss how The Crucible is essentially about courage, weakness, and truth.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 21, 2013 at 4:38 PM (Answer #1)

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Certainly, the weaker characters are too afraid or simply unwilling to face the truth of the situation in The Crucible. Parris is a clear example. He would rather blame the girls' behavior on the Devil and witchcraft than think critically about Salem's way of life. Parris is too weak to consider that the girls were simply rebelling as young people do; and in this case, they were rebelling (playfully) against the fanatically strict way of life in Salem. Parris, being a religious authority in town, is reluctant to challenge the way of life that he helps to enforce. 

The courageous characters are brave enough to face the truth. With the exception of initially hiding his affair with Abigail, John Proctor faces the truth head on. He is also willing to challenge the court and all legal and religious authorities when he sees that they are missing the truth of the situation regarding the accusations of witchcraft. Elizabeth is also courageous and sticks to the truth with the exception of one instance when she lies to protect John from accusations of adultery. One of the more courageous moments in the play is when Giles Corey is put to death in a violent manner and he retains his integrity and bravery until the very end. Elizabeth relates the details of his death to John in Act Four: 

Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. With a tender smile for the old man: They say he give them but two words. "More weight," he says. And died. 

The characters in the play who are weak tend to stick to traditions and their religious (and sometimes superstitious) doctrines to explain the events that take place. The more courageous characters are willing to think more critically and perhaps more importantly, the more courageous characters believe that someone accused of a crime (even witchcraft) is innocent until proven guilty. In this respect, the courageous characters seek actual proof whereas the weaker characters would rather place the blame on anyone but themselves and/or their way of life. 

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