In The Crucible, Proctor speaks of ringing a bell of “doom of [his] good name.” After Elizabeth lies, Proctor says, “She only thought to save my name.” Hale even calls Elizabeth’s lie a “natural lie to tell.” Why is Proctor’s “name” so important? Explain.

In The Crucible, one reason why Proctor's name is so important is because he doesn't want his descendants to have a bad reputation. He doesn't want them to have to live with the shame of having a self-confessed witch for an ancestor, even if the confession in question was a false one.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At first, John Proctor shows himself willing to sign a document confessing to witchcraft. He's completely innocent of any such crime, of course; he simply wants to save his life. But when he learns that his written confession will be nailed to the church door for all to see, he relents and angrily tears up the document.

John knows full well what this fateful decision means. He will go to the gallows as a witch, the latest in a long and growing list of innocent victims of the outbreak of mass hysteria that has the town of Salem in its vicelike grip. But John figures that it's better to die with honor than to live in shame and infamy.

In making the ultimate sacrifice, John is protecting his good name. The last thing he wants is for the name of Proctor to become associated in the popular mind with a confession of witchcraft and all the shame and ignominy that that entails. In tearing up his signed confession, John is protecting the good name of not just his present family but that of his descendants as well.

John will soon die, but his name will live on, and it is incredibly important that that name will be forever associated with a good Christian man who did the right thing and not someone who confessed to being a witch.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 16, 2021
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial