What dramatic purposes are served by the role of Giles Corey?tnk very much!

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Giles Corey was an elderly man who was accused of witchcraft along with a number of other elderly people in Salem. His age and physical frailty represent the lack of compassion of the magistrates, who treated all of the accused more or less equally. Giles Corey is also an unusual case in that he was not hanged, but was tortured into confessing by having heavy stones piled on top of a wooden door, hence the term 'pressed' to death. He suffers greatly under this torture and is killed when he refuses to confess, and his last words are 'more weight', a chilling indication that he preferred to die by torture than live the lie of admitting to the accusation of witchcraft. This event occurs offstage and is related by another character, and the dramatic impact is the suggestion that no one, even a kind old man, is safe from the brutal tactics of the Salem justice system.