Who is Giles Corey in The Crucible?

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Giles Corey is one of the oldest citizens of Salem.

When he initially appears in The Crucible, Miller describes him as "knotted with muscle, canny, inquisitive, and still powerful."  At 83 years old, Corey is very perceptive about the world around him.  Corey is inquisitive about Putnam's land holdings and his motivations.  He also demonstrates his spirit of independent thought when he asks Hale about the interest that his wife has on certain books.  Corey is a character who is willing to question the world around him.  His inquisitive nature makes him a voice of dissent in a world where such thoughts are being silenced.  

As the play develops, Corey's wife is imprisoned along with Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor.  Corey's independent thought is displayed in his assertion that Putnam's motivations are to consolidate his control of Salem real estate.  He proves to be a skilled litigator, challenging the authority of Hathorne and Danforth.

Giles Corey demonstrates one last moment of insight before he is to die. Elizabeth relays this to John in the drama's final moments:

He would not answer aye or nay to his indictment: for if he denied the charge, they'd hang him surely and auction out his property.  So he stand mute, and died Christian under the law.  And so his sons will have his farm.  It is the law for he could not be condemned a wizard without he answer the indictment aye or nay.

Even in his final moments, Giles Corey demonstrates his intelligence.  When Giles Corey is taken to jail and sentenced to be pressed to death, he insists upon "more weight" as his final words.  Giles Corey is Miller's way of reminding the audience that even in the most oppressive of conditions, human beings can display resistance to injustice.

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In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, who is Giles Corey?

In Arthur Miller’s parable about the dangers of the Red Scare and allegations of communist affiliations that were a characteristic of the post-World War II period, The Crucible, the character of Giles Corey is a strange, physically powerful old man whose ignorance and innocence both contribute to and later detract from the hysteria sweeping Salem.  He is introduced in Act I in the midst of chaos and hysteria, as Parris continues to panic over Betty while Abigail and John Proctor argue over their relationship and Elizabeth Proctor’s accusations against Abigail.  In this context, the old Giles Corey makes his entrance:

Giles Corey, eighty-three, enters. He is knotted with muscle, canny, inquisitive, and still powerful.

Giles is a recent convert to Christianity, and, typical of recent converts to any religion, is particularly pious.  He is also highly susceptible to the paranoia running rampant through the community – paranoia that he initially applied to his wife, whose interest in books was, to Giles, highly suspicious.  As with others who initially got caught up in the hysteria about witchcraft and sorcery, Giles would come to his senses and prove his mettle when subjected to torture in an effort at forcing him to accuse his wife.  At the play’s end, Giles dead from the weight of the rocks placed on his torso to compel compliance, is described by the Proctors [stage directions in italics]:

Elizabeth: Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. With a tender smile for the old man: They say he give them but two words. “More weight,” he says. And died.

Proctor, numbed - a thread to weave into his agony: “More weight,”

Elizabeth: Aye. It were a fearsome man, Giles Corey.

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