The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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Analyze what a good name means to some of the characters in The Crucible.

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The importance of having a good name is stressed throughout this play, and is a definite theme that you can analyse. Consider the way that reputation is so important to so many characters in Salem, which is a place where even the most innocuous action or word is enough to crush somebody's reputation. In such an environment of fear, characters act to protect their own good name. An obvious example of this is Parris, who fears how Abigail's actions and how the rumours about his daughter's comatose state will impact his own social standing. John Proctor is exactly the same. As we see in Act II, he has a chance to denounce Abigail at the beginning of this furore, but out of a desire to protect his reputation he does not testify against Abigail. However, at the end of the play, it is Proctor's desire to preserve his good name that leads him to tear up his confession and standing for the truth:

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!

These important lines show how Proctor balances his earlier failure to stand up for the truth and he is able to die a man of integrity. This is also a response to the willingness of Rebecca Nurse and Martha Cory to die for their reputation. Their example spurs Proctor on to die for his name.

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