In The Crucible, what are some of the most important quotes and meanings throughout the Acts that most likely are needed in essays?

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" is filled with revenge and fear. The fear that the villagers feel bring about a mass hysteria ending in the persecution and death of many whom have been charged with being witches. Throughout the play there are many poignant quotes which one could focus upon in essays.

The first quote one could scrutinize for analysis purposes is

I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men!

This quote is found in Act One and is spoken by Abagail Williams. Prior to the action of the play, readers come to find out that Abagail has had an affair with John Proctor (he is married to Elizabeth Proctor). This quote shows Abagail's attempt to place blame on others in regards to her affair. As the play continues, Abagail continually tries to blame others for the position she has gotten herself into. In regards to an essay topic, one could support that Abagail is not a woman who takes responsibility for her actions. Instead, she continually looks for others to blame or circumstances which she can use to take the light off of herself.

The next quote comes from Act One and is, again, spoken by Abagail:

I want to open myself! . . . I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!

Here readers can see that Abagail's confession is not one in which she gives in honesty. Instead, her confession is given so that she can be freed from persecution. (According to Salem law, if one confesses to consorting with the Devil they are considered innocent and redeemed. As seen in the previous quote, Abagail is simply concerned with her own welfare and worries about no one but herself. She gives up the name sof others so that the officials can move their concern away from her and they can charge others with witchcraft.

The last quote is given by John Proctor at the end of the play:

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!

John has admitted to the affair with Abagail. He is now charged with signing his name to a paper which will be posted for all of the town to see. He knows that signing the paper will save his life, he has already admitted to the affair, but he does not understand why the verbal admittance is enough. He states that everything else has been taken from him- he is no longer the respected man that he was before. He refuses to sign his name to the paper because it is the only thing that he has left that is truly his.

In regards to an essay about the above quote, one could examine the lengths one would go to to save something which means more to them than all else. We are given a name- it is the one thing that no one should be able to take from us.