Heroism in the Crucible

Mads Szklany English 11 Mr. Doty March 29, 2010 Heroism in The Crucible Often people have to endure tests of character in order to prove who they are. It is when people have to face great opposition that their character is truly shown; we see whether people are heroes or cowards. Those who are heroic always stand up for their morals and never back down and do selfless acts for the good of others.

When people encounter moments where they have to face opposition they can do either of two things; they can stand up for what they believe in and do what they think is the right thing to do, or they can sit back and let someone else do it and simply try to ignore the problem. The ones who always stand up for what they believe are the people who are true heroes. People who have a heroic character will constantly rise up and speak out loud when they see that something wrong is going on.

The people who are heroes are incredibly important to society, because they are the people who work for a better tomorrow; they are the people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for something better. In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, there are multiple characters that show the quality of a hero when faced with opposition. I believe that the four characters that showed the most “hero” quality were john Proctor, , Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey. Rebecca Nurse is a good and simple example of someone who is a hero. She is a hero from the beginning to the end of the story.

From the start she is willing to sacrifice her own life for her morals, which shown how strong a character she is. Even when she is repeatedly being pleaded by Reverend Hale to confess to witchcraft in order to save her own life, she refuses, because she knows it is a lie and lying is against her good morals. The heroes, Giles and Proctor, are more complex and grow to become heroes in the book. In the beginning of the book Giles Corey does not appear to be a hero. However, throughout the book he begins to play more and more the role of a hero.

In the beginning of the book Giles is seen as more of an annoying person who will do bad things to benefit himself, but he changes throughout the book. When the witch hunts start he does not really believe in witchcraft, however, he is still curious about it and wants to ask the expert, Reverend Hale, some questions. Giles accidently makes his wife look like a witch when he starts asking Hale questions. Giles asks Hale about his wife, “I have waked at night many a time and found her in a corner, readin’ of a book. Now what do I make of that? ” (37).

It was uncommon for Women to read at this time so it made her look like a witch. Then after this Giles goes on to say, “It discomfits me! Last night-mark this-I tired and tired and could not say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly-mark this-I could pray again! ” (38). Giles, however, forgets to mention to Reverend Hale that he has only recently started going to church and that he is not very good at saying prayer; he never mentions that this could have something to do with him not knowing how to say a proper prayer.

After Giles wife is taking to prison he does not do very much and just keeps on with his life. For the way he spoke of his wife and simply allowed her to go to jail he is definitely no hero. Later, though, Giles starts to notice that even the slightest offhand remark can result in suspicion of one working with the devil. Giles finally wakes up when Putnam’s daughter accuses George Jacobs of witchery. When this happens then Giles notices a motive and claims that Putnam only wants Jacobs’ land. This is when Giles realizes that he needs to take a stand because if he doesn’t then no one will.

Giles then rushes to the court shouting that “Thomas Putnam is only reaching out for land! ” (79) Giles claims to have proof and a witness who heard Putnam speak of it. When the court asks him to tell them who the witness is he refuses, because he does not wish to condemn another person, just like he condemned his own wife. Because he will not say who it was, they take him outside and start putting stones on top of him, trying to make him confess. Elizabeth speaks about when Giles was again asked to say who it was. Elizabeth said, “Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay.

They say he give them but two words. “More weight,” he says. And died” (125). In the end of the book Giles has learned and grown. He dies a hero because he refuses to do the wrong thing; instead he stands up and faces the consequence of doing what is right. From the beginning of the book Proctor knows that the witch trials are only something made up by a group of girls lead by Abigail. He knows because Abigail told him first hand that Betty, who is supposed to be bewitched, is only pretending. Abigail says, “We were dancin’ in the woods last night, and my uncle leaped in on us.

She took fright, is all” (20). Abigail, however, has told the whole town that Betty has been bewitched. When Proctor finds out this information he still does not go to the court because part of him is still in love with his old mistress, Abigail. Later when Abigail begins to accuse Elizabeth, Proctor’s wife, of witchcraft, Proctor has then had enough. He goes to the court and yells to the court that, “A man may think God sleeps, but God sees everything, I know it now. I beg you, sir, I beg you—see her what she is. . . . She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave!

And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But all it is a whore’s vengeance“ (102). Here Abigail starts to look guilty. Proctor confesses to lechery and if it is true that Proctor did commit lechery with Abigail, then very likely the court will figure out that all this was simply a well-planned plot by Abigail. The court wants Elizabeth to come from the jail and speak to the court in private. When Elizabeth goes to the court she does not know that her husband confessed to lechery.

Therefore when Elizabeth is asked about the relationship that Proctor and Abigail had, she merely denies there ever being a relationship between them. She knows that if she lies then she will go to hell, but if she speaks the truth then she will condemn her husband, which she does not wish to do, because of such a selfless act she also becomes a hero. Proctor is the greatest hero in the book. He is also the person in the book who learns the most and grows. He is a very human character because when faced with oppositions he wants to do the right thing, but still has so doubt about what to do; he is a hero, though, because in the end he makes he right decision. He decides to confess, even though his confession is a lie. Then when he is confessing they tell him that he needs to sign his name on a confession. When they ask him to sign his name he begins to cry and refuses to sing, saying, “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! ” (133). Proctor realizes that by him confessing he will be condoning the hanging of all the innocent people.

He then decides that he rather stand up for what is right and been hanged, than confessing to a lie. Proctor accepts his fate, Reverend Hale begins plead with him saying “Man, you will hang! You cannot! ” (133). Proctor simply replies with his eyes full of tears, “I can. And there’s your first marvel that I can. You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs. Elizabeth, in a burst of terror, rushes to him and weeps against his hand.

Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show honor nor, show a stony heart and sink them with it! ” (133). Then morning comes and Rebecca and Proctor are taking outside to be hanged. When Proctor stands up preparing to be hanged Elizabeth says, “He have his goodness now” (134). Elizabeth feels that now Proctor has become the great man that he was meant to be. Proctor could have saved his own life but instead he chooses to die because that is the heroic thing to do; he dies for a right cause. The book shows a variety of heroic characters.

However, the most important aspect of the book is also that is shows that heroes are not born heroes but they are made into heroes when faced with great opposition. Heroism is one of the most important things in life. Most people lack the qualities of a true hero. Most people are weak and fall when faced with the slightest bit of opposition. That is why heroism should be praised when it is shown. Everyday heroes are those who are willing to do selfless acts for the good of others. Works cited: Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin books, 1951.

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