Why is the word "Goody" used frequently in The Crucible?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Arthur Miller took poetic license with his characterization of Abigail Williams in raising her age and in creating her affair with John Proctor, he has established well in his drama the social setting and dynamics of the Puritans in Massachusetts. One of the elements of this realism is the prevalent use of the polite forms of Puritan address; namely, Goodman for men and Goody for women. So, Goody is used rather than the modern Miss or Mrs. or Ms.

Interesting, however, is the connotation attached to this word of address in light of the importance that the Puritan community places upon one's good name. Clearly, one's reputation is of paramount importance to those who people this drama, mainly because their religion is not a forgiving one that offers sacramental grace for confession as does that theology from which the Puritans broke. (Punishments for transgressions were severe and humiliating.) So, perhaps, the repetition of "Goody" may be a dramatic effect that Miller employs to remind the audience of the importance Puritans placed upon their good name. After all, in the end, John Proctor values his good name above all else. Indeed, it is his desire to preserve his name that leads him to tear apart his confession because it is not the same as what others say. Proctor feels he must retain his integrity:

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!

Further he says,..."I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor."