Why did Giles Corey ask for "more weight" when he died?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Giles Corey, a subordinate character in Miller's play "The Crucible", asks for 'more weight' when he is being pressed to death at the end of the play.

Giles knew that the charges he was facing were ridiculous. He had already put his wife in danger of being declared a witch when he told the townspeople about her reading strange books.

Giles asked for more weight for two reasons. First, he knew that the adding of more weight would end his suffering quicker. Second, and perhaps the more honorable, he was showing the officials that his spirit would not be broken.

Giles, like Proctor, both refuse at the end to concede completely to the wishes of the officials. Proctor begged for the officials not to make him sign his name as a result of his pleading guilty. Proctor states that his name is the only thing he can keep.

Giles demands more weight instead of pleading either guilty or not guilty to the charges against him—and thus, some believe, allows his sons-in-law to inherit his estate instead of forfeiting it to the government.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Giles Corey asked for “more weight” during his questioning for two major reasons:

Giles Corey may have asked for more weight out of rebellion. He understood the law and his rights as an individual given the number of times he had been to court. He also recognized earlier on that the witch trials were a mere charade and the system was not pursuing justice but advancing self-interests. He resisted the urge to extend his accusers the pleasure of hearing him confess to something he had not done. A similar situation occurred when Elizabeth asked John not to show any weakness in front of his accusers. 

Giles may also have been willing to die rather than make a false confession because of the legal ramification of his confession. He stated that Mr. Putnam was reaching out for land and he understood that a confession of that nature would strip him of his rights and claims to the property. Thus, by facing his death without confessing, Giles ensured that his property remained with his family. His courage protected his legacy and his name.