”The Crucible” by Arthur Miller
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Excessive pride is an inflated sense of one’s personal ego or how they feel about their own accomplishments. The play, The Crucible, recounts the time period of American history in which the country was being plagued with accusations of innocent citizes working for Satan; these citizens were labeled ‘witches’ or ‘wizards’. Most of the accused were hanged for their ‘sins’ and many were excommunicated from the Church. The author of The Crucible, Arthur Miller, employs the theme of Pride throughout the play to add plot twists and create suspense. In The Crucible, several main characters- Reverend Hale, Elizabeth Proctor, and John Proctor are dignified by their fleeting or strong standing acts of excessive pride in their individual roles.
Throughout the play The Crucible, the character Reverend Hale was a prominent figure. He was in charge of trying to obtain confessions from the accused, expel Satan from certain characters, and signing the death warrants of the accused. It was effortless almost for Reverend Hale to let his pride rule his decisions on a few different occassions. “Excellency, I have signed seventy-two death warrant; I am a minister of the Lord, and I dare not take a life without there be a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of conscience may doubt it.” (Pg 92). This excerpt displays an example of Hale allowing his pride to get in the way of a fair hearing. The way he openly says he has signed 72 death warrants and then tries to justify the horrid nature of what he just said by stating he is a minister of the Lord shows how he may have let his pride rule his signature of those 72 deaths.
In addition, Hale further tries to justify himself by reassuring everyone that he would never take a life if there wasn’t enough evidence to hang an accused citizen, then he would never let it happen. Later in the play, Hale tries to save Proctor by saying he is an innocent man even though there was a sufficient amount of evidence to hang him in comparison to the other ‘accused’. “Man, you will hang! You cannot!” (Pg 133). This quote provides a clear example of a result of Hale allowig his pride to control his mind. Reverend Hale realizes that innocent people are dying because he let his prior pride to control his decisions; he realizes that the Salem witche epidemic is all a fraud. When Hale allowed himself to believe the first few cries of witchery, he set himself up with his own selfish pride, resulting in many innocent deaths, including John Proctor. All in all, Hale’s pride was justified because he realized what he let his pride to do himself and others.
In addition to Reverend Hale, another main character who portrays the theme of Pride throughout the play is Elizabeth Proctor. Elizabeth Proctor was one of the accused ‘witches’ who escaped her doom of being hanged at the noose. However, there were many instances where Elizabeth’s pride got her into a lot of trouble. “Question Abigail Williams about the Gospel, not myself!” (66)”. This short line spoken by Elizabeth Proctor offers a glimpse of Elizabeth’s pride getting the best of her. She becomes so enraged she blurt out something could be incriminated; Elizabeth openly accused the accuser of being unholy, leading others to believe that she could be a witch or unholy herself. The result of her pride is that a warrant is issued for her arrest. “I am given sixteen warrents tonight, sir, and she is one.” (69). Elizabeth’s pride isn’t really justified at the end of the play. Her husband ends up being executed because she let her pride get in between them.
Futhermore, a last and final character, John Proctor, displays the theme of pride throughout the play. John Proctor was accused by Mary Warren and Abigail on accounts of working for Satan. “I have known her, sir. I have known her.” (102). In this quote, John Proctor has confessed to his affairs with Abigail, casting away an immense amount of his pride and his good name in an effort to save his wife. The result of his outburst is not so bright. “My name, he want my name. ‘I’ll murder you,” he says, “if my wife hangs! We must go and overthrow the court,” he says!”. (110). John Proctor is accused by Mary Warren of working with Satan at the point of the statement. Abigail is thus saved from the charge of being a ‘whore’ as a much heavier accusation has been placed on John Proctor.
All in all, John Proctor compared to the other characters had too much pide for himself to handle and that was his downfall. He lied initially about Abigail because of his pride. His final act consisted of him finally confessing them ripping up his confession because he had to have a signature on it. John Proctor threw away his life because of his excessive pride. At that point, it wouldnt have mattered if John signed it or not, his name was already tainted. John Proctor let his pride get in the way; he should’ve thought of his family he’d be leaving behind. The Crucible was a powerful and captivating play with so many different themes and meanings wrapped into it. The title itself has mutiple meanings; crucible stands for an occassion of severe trial. With the theme of pride and the amount of excessive pride apparent throughout this play, it’s no shock to say that the accused Salem witches went through severe and unfair trials.