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What are some of the ways in which the characters are tested in The Crucible?

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kristenmarieb... | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted March 25, 2013 at 3:49 AM via web

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What are some of the ways in which the characters are tested in The Crucible?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM (Answer #1)

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Characters are tested in different ways throughout this text. Arguably, all of the major characters, and a number of the more minor characters, definitely experience a series of tests that they pass or fail with differing degrees. Certainly, the major testing is focused on John Proctor, who, in every single act, endures at least one test of his character. This can be seen in Act I when Abigail throws herself at him once again:

I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men! And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not, I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet.

This impassioned expression of her love for John Proctor makes it clear that to her, their relationship is still something that is in the present. Proctor, however, establishes that although he still may be attracted to her, their relationship belongs in the past. This is one test that he passes as he is able to resist his natural urgings and insist that this relationship is now ended so he can be faithful to his wife. Ultimately, Proctor endures in the biggest test that he endures in Act IV when he has to choose between telling a lie and saving his life or maintaining his innocence and his "name" and going to the grave. It is this emotive plea that he makes in Act IV, when he refuses to sign his testimony that he had lied, that shows he has endured the massive pressure brought against him to lie:

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!

At the end, Proctor's death represents a moral victory because he remains a man of integrity and does not give in to the pressure to lie and to betray his own moral position. Throughout the text, although he wobbles occasionally, Proctor is an excellent example of a character who remains loyal to his own values and beliefs, in spite the various tests he undergoes.

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