Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Miller's work, honesty is defined as standing for permanent values regardless of cost to self.  Honesty is shown to be a value in which individuals must be able to show significant sacrifice to honor it.  For example, Proctor "gains his goodness" when he understands that full honesty means that he is able to live his life with a purity of action that stands regardless of consequence.  Giles Corey represents this in how he is able to withstand being pressed to death, and not once consider changing his story to be convenient.  Rebecca Nurse also embodies honesty because she does not recant her opinions, which come from a place of sincerity and authenticity. As honest as Elizabeth is, she does not embody honesty, for she lies instead of embracing that which is honest.  Even though she lies for good reason, her lie reflects how she does not embody honesty in the most critical of moments.  

In the end, Proctor, Corey, and Rebecca Nurse represent what it means to be honest.  Sacrifice and honoring that which is transcendental, even in a contingent world, is where one can define honesty.  Miller's work suggests that the antidote to the crippling world of political manipulation is honesty and the ability to withstand pressure in order to embody that which is honorable and right.  In the drama, honesty is linked with sacrifice and a sense of the permanent even though the world is driven by that which is contingent and temporal.