How was reputation something that impacted the people in The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of reputation is impacted in Miller's work through a variety of contexts.  On one hand, reputation is shown to clearly be important to the people of Salem.  It is something that is personally and socially relevant.  At the same time, I think that reputation is also shown to be something that cages the people of Salem.  The people of Salem are victim to how they are perceived and do not want any potential blemish on their public perception.  It is for this reason that the accusations are so powerful, as they strike at a person's reputation for if everyone in Salem is respectful of religion, as they socially strive to be, the accusation of being a witch undermines all of this in the eyes of others.  Parris is more concerned for his reputation as the town's minister than for his own daughter's well- being.  Abigail is willing to trash nearly everyone's reputation to get what she wants.  Proctor seems to be inhibited by so many things at the early part of the narrative that reputation is probably part of it.  His renunciation of everything except "his name" at the end of the drama includes a renouncing of reputation.  The mere fact that someone is "named" to the court hurts their reputation, which is why so few developed any type of social cohesion or unity with one another to repel the onslaught of charges.  Miller shows reputation affecting Salem as the townspeople are imprisoned by it, afraid to stand up to it, and thus emboldening those who are an affront to it.