To live or to die. The Crucible by Arthur Miller takes place during the late 1600s and was written during the McCarthy era. At the end of the story John Proctor is faced with a life changing decision. However, John does not do the right thing by choosing his death. In his story the Crucible, Arthur Miller describes John Proctor, “…powerful of body, even tempered, and not easily led…In Proctor’s presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly…” (14).
This description is proven true at the end of the story when Hale and Parris try and convince John to lie about seeing the devil. John is very stubborn and cannot sign over his name. This is portrayed in the fourth act of the play when John says, “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” (62). John is too concerned about his name. He has two boys that are still growing up and another child on the way. He is leaving his wife with all the responsibility and no one to help her. John should accept living with a lie, to be with his family.
He could easily move to another town and purchase new land. It would be a fresh start with new people and a new reputation. John does the wrong thing by dying and leaving his wife to have to take care of their children alone. John Proctor could have saved many lives had he confessed. Along with his own life, John could’ve saved his wife’s, his new baby’s, and many other accused towns people’s lives. The author portrays Proctor’s effect on the village and the people, “It is a great service, sir. It is a weighty name; it will strike the village that Proctor confess. (61). John is well liked and many look up to him. He is always trying to do what is right and does not like hypocrites. If John had confessed to witchery, it is likely that the majority of the accused would have followed his example. By lying one time, John Proctor could have saved a town full of people and set the daily lifestyle back to its original state. The author portrays how Danforth truly wants the witch trials to be over by describing, “What think you, Mr. Parris? You have closer knowledge of this man; might her presence soften him? ” (57).
All of the members of the courts and town want these awful hangings to be over with. All they needed was one person to start the trend. If John Proctor would havve admitted to a lie, and lived because of it, he could have saved many lives. His wife, who is three months pregnant, would have been let out of jail and allowed to go back home with John. She would be much cleaner and healthier in turn giving her baby the right nutrition and care to grow properly. Also, being at her home would keep Elizabeth Proctor stress free. By living, John could have ensured his babies life, health, and future wellness.
Because of his death, Elizabeth will forevermore struggle with feeding her children and making any kind of money, if she is set free. The man of the family is the provider during this time period, and he has the responsibility of keeping the food on the table and a roof over their head. John’s death was a wrongdoing on his part. By choosing to live with a lie and a ruined name, John could have saved his baby’s life, his wife’s life, and many towns peoples lives. Also, along with John’s living, he could have provided for his family and kept them comfortable in their way of living.