“How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” Says the character John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
Probably the most powerful line the entire play, it is apparent that the idea of the importance of “names” is the central theme of this great classic.The author begins to develop this idea early in the play beginning with the conversation between Reverend Parris (a fearful reverend who instigates the witchcraft panic when he finds his daughter, Betty Parris and niece, Abigail Williams dancing in the woods with several other girls) and Abigail Williams (the niece of Reverend Parris, the Proctors’ servant before Elizabeth Proctor fired her for having an affair with John Proctor. Instigates the Salem witch trials and leads the charge of accusations against those who oppose her. Early in Act I, Abigail attempts to defend herself by claiming her actions in the wood were merely but a sport, Reverend Parris goes on to say, “…I have put clothes upon your back- now give me upright answer. Your name in the town- it is entirely pure, isn’t it? ” It implies that the reverend is defending the name of the family as opposed to the truth of the family within itself placing name above family. Another great example that displays the theme of name begins in Act III with the character Giles Corey.
Corey is an old resident of Salem who accidentally accuses his own wife of witchery by stating that, “she reads books at night. ” And who refuses to give a name of a man whom told him that Putnam was accusing witchery against his neighbors solely for the purpose of acquiring land. “…He’ll lay in jail if I give his name…I will not give you no name. I mentioned my wife’s name once and I’ll burn in hell long enough for that. I stand mute.
” –Giles Corey. The court, ordered to lay stones on his chest, never to drive the name out of Corey only the phrase “more weight”, later kills Giles.The characters mentioned so far did not have large parts in the play, however, every situation each character was in made a great contribution to the milieu of the play and to elaborate the importance of “name. ” Two characters, nonetheless, had an immense role in driving the play throughout, Abigail Williams and John Proctor. Abigail, the catalyst throughout the play, is introduced in the play as the leader of the girls.
In truth, I believe, she is the only character independent from the rest of the town.It is herself that influences her decisions, and not the town, as the rest of the characters. “My name is good in the village! I will not have it said it my name is soiled! ” she exclaims to Parris in Act I. This line, I believe, signifies her entire struggle throughout the play.
Although she is developed throughout the play as a shameless liar, and charlatan, she is merely only accomplishing what others in the village make great effort in doing, keeping her name pure. The author exemplifies this development of Abigail through Abigail’s use of fear through power.Abigail demonstrates this by stating to the girls, “…Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you…” This illustrates her power early in the play to only a group of girls, but through her actions recognized throughout the town as a “victim” her power and the use of fear increases throughout the entire town and even to the high court, Judge Dansforth.For example, the scene in Act III where Reverend Hale suspected her of lying the entire time, “…This girl has always struck me false! She has-“ Abigail quick to respond, uses a bird to instigate an evil spirit and enables to lure the entire town away from the suspicion and into a complete frenzy. Where Abigail uses lies and deceits to keep her name pure, the character of John Proctor, although with the same struggle, uses a different approach.
The character of John Proctor begins out as respected and even feared, he is a farmer with a plethora of land (therefore making him really powerful in the town).