Discuss how The Crucible is essentially about courage, weakness, and truth.

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, the weaker characters are too afraid or simply unwilling to face the truth of the situation in The Crucible. Parris is a clear example. He would rather blame the girls' behavior on the Devil and witchcraft than think critically about Salem's way of life. Parris is too weak to consider that the girls were simply rebelling as young people do; and in this case, they were rebelling (playfully) against the fanatically strict way of life in Salem. Parris, being a religious authority in town, is reluctant to challenge the way of life that he helps to enforce. 

The courageous characters are brave enough to face the truth. With the exception of initially hiding his affair with Abigail, John Proctor faces the truth head on. He is also willing to challenge the court and all legal and religious authorities when he sees that they are missing the truth of the situation regarding the accusations of witchcraft. Elizabeth is also courageous and sticks to the truth with the exception of one instance when she lies to protect John from accusations of adultery. One of the more courageous moments in the play is when Giles Corey is put to death in a violent manner and he retains his integrity and bravery until the very end. Elizabeth relates the details of his death to John in Act Four: 

Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. With a tender smile for the old man: They say he give them but two words. "More weight," he says. And died. 

The characters in the play who are weak tend to stick to traditions and their religious (and sometimes superstitious) doctrines to explain the events that take place. The more courageous characters are willing to think more critically and perhaps more importantly, the more courageous characters believe that someone accused of a crime (even witchcraft) is innocent until proven guilty. In this respect, the courageous characters seek actual proof whereas the weaker characters would rather place the blame on anyone but themselves and/or their way of life. 

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Courage in the story is epitomized by John Proctor, Giles Corey, and Rebecca. Giles Corey is subjected to torture, but he refuses to make the false confession. His last words are “More Weight!” signaling his defiance to the end. Despite being fully aware of the tragic events awaiting her, Rebecca Nurse refuses to confess, and she is set to hang. John is offered an opportunity to redeem himself, but he considers the impact of his confession and opts to stay defiant.

Reverend Parris demonstrates weakness in the story by agreeing to support falsehoods in order to save himself. Despite being aware of the truth, Parris supports Betty, Abigail, and Tituba when they falsely accuse other members of the society. The reverend takes the opportunity to distance himself from the events unfolding in the Salem community.

Rebecca Nurse stands with the truth to the end and refuses to issue a false confession. Hale discovers the truth but his attempts to stop the witch hunt come too late. Abigail and Mary Warren are exposed after Abigail steals from her uncle, and the two girls run away as the witch hunt is still ongoing. Danforth refuses to stand by the truth because it threatens his reputation.

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The Crucible

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