What is the symbolism of the golden candlesticks, Proctor's signature, and poppets in The Crucible, by Arthur Miller?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In the drama, Rev. Parris wanted golden candlesticks for the altar, and according to John Proctor, preached about them often. Proctor resented Parris's rich tastes, considering him to be a greedy and ungodly man. Proctor especially resented Parris's obsession with the candlesticks because Proctor was a farmer who worked long and hard to support his family. Proctor's resentment ran so deep that he had not wanted Parris to baptize his and Elizabeth's youngest child. The golden candlesticks symbolize Parris's selfish materialism, and they perhaps symbolize the deep rift between Parris and Proctor.

John Proctor's signature, and his refusal to give it to the court in a confession, finalizes the central theme in the play: the courage to maintain one's integrity, even in the face of death. Proctor's signature symbolizes his identity and his honor. He believes the most valuable possession he can leave to his children is his own good name. His signature symbolizes John's sense of self, what he holds dear, and what kind of man he is, in truth.

The poppets play an important role in the play in that a poppet becomes Abigail's instrument of vengeance in her attempt to destroy Elizabeth Proctor. In general, the poppets symbolized the Puritans' condemnation of entertainment and idleness. They are also associated in the play with the dark arts, the practice of witchcraft.

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