The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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In The Crucible, how and why does Giles die? Why wasn't he hanged?

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Valentine England eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Giles Corey refuses to answer "aye" or "nay" during his indictment as an attempt to protect the well-being of his family. He cannot be sent to the gallows to hang without an answer. Knowing that denying the charge of witchcraft would invalidate his good standing in the community, cost him his property, and lead to his hanging, Corey decides to say nothing. By doing so, he manages to keep his reputation as a Christian intact and die with dignity; his property will be kept for his family, who will not be left destitute after his death. 

In order to put pressure on Corey to give an answer, the courts tortured the man, placing large stones on his chest to force him to say something. Despite the horrific pain, Corey refuses to incriminate himself or any of his friends and neighbors, simply asking for "more weight" before he dies from the crushing burden of the stones. This leaves the community, and the Proctors in particular, with the impression that Corey was "a fearsome man." He is respected for his strength and courage in the face of the court's insane practices. 

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Sarah Miles eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Being a landowner in this time, was seen as having power. It was something sought after by many men and they would stop at nothing to get what they wanted. Putnam wanted more and more land and Corey Giles owned land.

Corey Giles was a strong old man. He has just converted to Christianity. He had never gone to church until he married his wife. He is a simple man and not the most intelligent. When he says that his wife is reading some strange books, he opens the door for her being accused of witchcraft. He knows his wife is innocent, but he is powerless to do anything about it. He also knows that it was his own doing that has put his wife on trial and possibly death. Danforth and the court torture Giles. They lay heavy stones on top of him, slowly crushing him to death. His last words are "more weight". He refuses to give the courts any names or confess to anything. He knows that by him keep silent, the court can not confiscate his land, and therefore his sons will inherit the land.

Putnam was not above using any means necessary to keep his power. Giles, being such a simple man, in the end outsmarted Putnam in the end. He proved that land is important and was willing to die to keep his land out of the hands of a man like Putnam. His death made sure that his children would rightfully be landowners now.  

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Giles Corey was pressed to death. Huge, heavy stones were laid upon his chest until he died. This tortuous procedure was used on Giles to make him answer the charges against him and to force him to name others for the court. Giles, however, was a strong and stubborn old man. He refused to implicate his friends, and he refused to answer to the court, knowing that by remaining silent he could prevent the court from confiscating his land, thus keeping it in his family. Despite his pain and suffering as he is crushed to death, Giles' remained defiant until the end. His last words to his tormentors were these: "More weight." 

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