What conflict does Giles Corey encounter in The Crucible?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Giles Corey encounters several conflicts throughout the play The Crucible that cause him emotional anguish and eventually lead to his horrific death. The first conflict that Giles Corey encounters concerns the fact that his faithful, morally upright wife, Martha Corey, has been arrested and accused of witchcraft. Giles feels extremely guilty for his wife's arrest because he initially mentioned that Martha acted mysteriously while she was reading, which affected his ability to pray later that night. Essentially, Giles feels responsible for his wife's arrest, which causes him to publicly challenge Salem's court.

The second conflict Giles Corey encounters concerns his argument with Deputy Governor Danforth, who refuses to accept Giles Corey's deposition without knowing the person who wrote it. When Giles Corey insists that he has written proof from a man who overheard Thomas Putnam telling his daughter to accuse George Jacobs of witchcraft so that he could buy George's forfeited land, Danforth demands to know the identity of the man who wrote the deposition. When Giles refuses to tell Danforth, he is arrested.

The third conflict Giles Corey encounters is his horrific execution. Giles Corey is crushed to death by heavy stones. However, Giles refuses to accuse himself of witchcraft during his execution in order to not lose his land.

luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Giles Corey has a couple conflicts.  One is that he goes to court frequently in fights over his land.  He contends that one of the reasons for the trials is to get his land because Thomas Putnam wants it and has been trying to find ways to get it. A bigger conflict though is that Giles' wife, Martha, has been accused of witchcraft.  This is, of course, tied to the first conflict of the fight over land.  Giles defends his wife saying that she reads books, but that doesn't mean she's a witch.  Despite his protestations, his wife is convicted of witchcraft and hanged but not before he is tortured and killed. He is pressed to death because he refused to enter a plea of "innocent" or "guilty".  Entering a plea would have meant his land went to the town instead of to his sons and he wouldn't do that.