Throughout the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, one?s name is a very important motif that is carried out. Reputation is the general estimation in which a person is held by the public, as referred to by dictionary.com. Reputation is very important in Salem because public and private moralities are one and the same. Witchcraft plays a huge role throughout the book and if someone is being named a witch then that is a huge sin to Puritanism. Reputation is a huge key factor to even everyone?s daily life. As a young teenager in high school, a teen would like their reputation to be positive so that people think highly of that person. Same goes with the play The Crucible. Focused on maintaining public reputation, the people in the town of Salem must fear that the sins of their friends and associates will taint or ruin their names. Many characters for example John Proctor and Reverend Parris, base their actions on the desire to protect their personal reputation.
When the play first begins, Parris fears that Abigail, his niece, is convicted of being a witch because of her intolerable actions, and the witchcraft that associates with his daughter?s coma will cause much chaos and bring down his power as a Reverend in Salem. Parris feels that power and reputation is the most important thing to him as a Reverend and as a townsperson in Salem. For example on page 30 Parris shrieks, ?I want a mark of confidence, is all! I am your third preacher in seven years. I do not wish to be put out like the cat whenever some majority feels the whim. You people seem not to comprehend that a minister is the lord?s man in the parish; a minister is not to be so lightly crossed and contradicted.? Parris thinks that because he is a Revered, he has automatic power, but if anything were to interfere with his authority, it would cause a huge decline in his power leading to his reputation being ruined.
John Proctor, a farmer who lives outside the town has an affair with Abigail who is just a teenager, is frightened to expose such a thing; he is afraid his name will be ruined. Earlier on in the play, Proctor has a chance to put a stop to the girls being accused of witchcraft; instead he wants to keep his reputation from testifying against Abigail. John Proctor makes many decisions of not going ahead and doing something about it because he is afraid that his reputation is at risk. Towards the end of the play The Crucible, Proctors desire to keep and maintain his good name, leads him to make a courageous choice, by not giving into a faulty confession which leads to his death. Proctor says to Danforth in Act IV, ?I have given you my soul; leave me my name!? This quote shows that by Proctor refusing to give up or surrender his name and reputation, he redeems himself for his earlier failure and dies with integrity. John Proctor makes a very huge decision. He says himself in Act IV that has given his soul and he would rather have his name. Proctor is basically dying and giving his last orders as to not destroy his name, because his name means so much to him. He would rather die then live with the rest of the town knowing that he been convicted of seeing the devil and being a witch.
On page 28, Proctor says to Putnam, ?You cannot command Mr. Parris. We vote by name in this society, not by acreage.? This quote demonstrates what a big role a persons name in the society brings to the rest of the town of Salem. Acreage, money or land is usually a way to critique a person, but in Salem, someone?s name or part in society is what they are held as in the eyes of the people. If you have a good reputation then you stand high in the town, but if your reputation is bad and you are convicted of being a witch, that could damage your reputation and status severely. On page 11, Parris says, ?Abaigail, I have fought here three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character. I have given you a home, child, I have put clothes upon your back- now give me upright answer. Your name in the town- it is entirely white, is it not?? This quote proves that once Parris?s authority started to increase, Abigail, his niece had to start trouble, causing many people to look at Parris differently and, causing his power in the society to decrease.
In conclusion, reputation in Salem plays a huge role. Because their names are so important to them, they take many risks just to maintain their high authority and their reputation to the people of Salem. John Proctor and Parris both were very concerned that their reputation was at stake in many different instances in this play The Crucible. Being named a witch was at a high risk in Salem during this time, therefore most likely everyone was convicted. To be labeled a witch, caused your reputation to be destroyed, even if you were associated with a convicted witch like John Proctor. Even today reputation means a lot to people, if you had a bad reputation you most likely aren?t high in authority or very well liked. As Proctor and Parris were in a high social standard of Salem, they too didn?t want to risk their reputation, therefore they did the things that they did in order to maintain their power and a good status in the town of Salem.