Have you ever found yourself in a situation where the consequences of your decision influence your self image and what other people think about you, both positive and/or negative? Often times, a person's pride and willingness to protect their treasured name by any means necessary, interferes with their ability to choose the more reasonable and logical solution to their problem. In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, pride is not the only factor standing in John Proctor's way of making a literal life or death decision, after being falsely accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. Proctor takes into consideration that he has three children and a wife, who he has already emotionally hurt beyond possible repair. Aside from violating the seventh commandment which states "Thou shalt not commit adultery," John Proctor was a descent man, torn between his only two options to either lie to save his life, or tell the truth and be punished with death. Which would you choose?.
A question arose in my mind while thinking about Proctor's decision to die for his name, rather than lie and live with his wife and children. "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!" Proctor said this after being informed that his signed confession would be nailed to the church door, and therefore proceeded to tear it up. It was then that he decided his name was more important. Was it selfish of him to do this? Does the sake of upholding a respectable name take precedence over family? As I contemplated this perplexing question, I came to the realization that Proctor's actions were indeed not selfish at all, yet somewhat heroic. Taking a stand against authority and democracy are challenging in present days, and were even more so in the early 1900's while living in a theocratic society.