In The Crucible: how important is it that individuals have faith in themselves if they are to resist oppression?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Based on the ending of the play alone, John Proctor's  faith and belief in himself is extremely important, vital even, to his ability to resist oppression.  He decides to lie, submitting his confession to witchcraft, in order to save his life, but then he suddenly decides against it in spite of the fact that it means he will hang.  Tearfully, he tells his oppressors:

You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor.  Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs.

John sees now that, despite his past infidelity to his wife and his mistakes concerning Abigail, he is capable of integrity and goodness. It is this knowledge that gives him the strength to stand up to Danforth, Reverend Parris, and even Reverend Hale (who also wants his confession, though for different reasons).  Elizabeth Proctor, John's wife, recognizes how important this realization is to her husband, and when Hale prompts her to intervene with him, she says, "He ha[s] his goodness now.  God forbid I take it from him!"  It is this faith in himself that gives John the strength to do what is right, and even his wife, who would want nothing more than for him to live, will not jeopardize it.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Individual strength is crucial to stay strong in the face of hysteria in Salem. John Proctor's faith in himself is returned by his refusal to confess to something he did not do. He will lose his life for it, but his faith in himself is more important to him.

Elizabeth Proctor has faith in God and her husband in staying strong and supporting his decision to refuse to confess. The state of his soul is more important than whether he lives another day. She has found her husband and their marriage again, even as he is sentenced to die.

Giles Corey's faith carries him through hours of torture until his death. He refuses to participate, and is slowly crushed by the weight of the stones. He allows his faith to give him the strength to endure, and this is evidenced by his last words "more weight".

Rebecca Nurse also relies on her faith and strength of character, when she refuses, as John Proctor does, to confess to something she did not do. 

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The Crucible

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