What is the evidence of sacrifice in Arthur Miller's The Crucible?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Evidence of sacrifice can be seen in the suffering of specific characters in The Crucible.

The suffering that characters endure reflects the sacrifices they make for their beliefs. Giles Corey sacrifices greatly for his beliefs. He is convinced that people like Putnam use the witch trials as a way to advance their own agenda. He sacrifices for his outspoken nature, evident in how he calls out for "more weight" while being pressed to death. 

In a similar manner, Elizabeth Proctor sacrifices for her husband. To protect his reputation, she lies in court, sacrificing her name. She then refuses to beg him to reconsider his confession because of how it shows his "goodness," something she will not take away from him. Elizabeth sacrifices her happiness as a married wife because of the love she holds for her husband. 

Proctor makes the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs. In Act III, he knows Abigail and the girls are lying. His commitment to truth and stopping the suffering they are inflicting causes him to implicate himself in court. He goes to jail in the name of his beliefs. In Act IV, Proctor sacrifices again. Unwilling to "sign himself to lies" and ashamed at his momentary willingness to do so, Proctor sacrifices his own life for the truth. As a result, Proctor stands up for truth in a world that does not value it. 

Characters like Giles Corey and Elizabeth and John Proctor have to sacrifice mightily for their beliefs. Their desire to be decent in an indecent time compels them to forgo a great deal. Through these characterizations, Arthur Miller suggests the commitment to our values and the sacrifice they entail become more important when situations are difficult. The need to sacrifice in trying times underscores our commitment to ideals, something that represents the ultimate currency in a world of shifting values.