Where are there examples of the theme of integrity in The Crucible?

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mnietfeld eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Another character who represents the theme of integrity in the novel is Giles Corey. Giles's wife, Martha Corey, is taken to court:

Proctor: Giles! What's the matter?

Giles: They take my wife. And Rebecca Nurse!

Proctor: Rebecca's in the jail!

Nurse: . . . Cheever, come and take her in this wagon. We've only now come from the jail and they'll not even let us in to see them.

Giles is extremely upset that his wife, along with Rebecca Nurse (who is known for her respectability, goodness, and wisdom), is accused in the midst of the witchcraft hysteria.

Giles later goes to court to try to help his wife and friends. He tells the court officials,

Corey: . . . It is my wife you be condemning now. . . . They're tellin' lies about my wife, sir . . .

Later in the conversation, Giles gives a legal deposition stating that Putnam is "killing his neighbors for their land!" He continues,

Corey: I have it from an honest man who heard Putnam say it! The day his daughter cried out on Jacobs, he said she'd given him a fair gift of land.

If this were true, it would begin to expose the selfish motivations behind the witchcraft accusations. Judge Hawthorne asks him,

Hawthorne: And the name of this man?

Giles refuses to give this name away, since it could get that individual in trouble.

Corey: I will not give you no name. I mentioned my wife's name once and I'll burn in hell long enough for that. I stand mute.

Judge Danforth then asserts his power to try to get Giles to speak:

Danforth: In that case, I have no choice but to arrest you for contempt of this court, do you know that?

Later in the play, John Proctor is put in jail. He is about to be killed but is given time to talk to his wife, Elizabeth. They talk about Giles, since John Proctor does not know what ended up happening to him:

Proctor: And Giles?

Elizabeth: Giles is dead.

Proctor: . . . When were he hanged?

Elizabeth: . . . He were not hanged. He would not answer ay or nay to his indictment; for if he denied the charge they'd hang him surely, and auction out his property. So he stand mute, and died Christian under the law.

Proctor: Then how does he die?

Elizabeth: . . . They press him, John . . . Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead ay or nay. . .

Giles faces a horrible death, being slowly suffocated with heavy stones. To his last breath he is determined to do the right thing for his family and friends. He allows his property to stay in his family by "stand[ing] mute" and refusing to give into the pressure of the law officials. He chooses to remain silent and face death to protect his property for his family. Also, he shows bravery by refusing to give the name of his friend (who overheard Thomas Putnam discussing land). He does not want his friend to get in trouble. Corey is willing to give his life to protect others.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would say that John Proctor would represent the theme of integrity in Miller's work.  The idea of the theme of integrity involves being able to stand for values that are transcendent, universal, and represent the "better" angels of one's nature.  In refusing to sign the confession and understanding what this sacrifice entails, Proctor represents integrity in a setting that completely is devoid of it.  Its thematic development is critical in two elements.  The first is that specific characters represent it, and the second is that others around them do not.  At a time when so many in the town are simply signing confessions known to be false so that they may protect their own interests, Proctor defies this in his display of integrity.  When he asserts or clings to the idea of his own "name," it represents a moment where the purity of integrity overcomes the impurity of Salem:

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!

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