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Moral Dilemmas in the Crucible

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Moral Dilemmas in the Crucible

Moral Dilemmas in the Crucible

During this course we have read three literary works by or about puritans. These are “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards, “Upon the Burning of our House” by Anne Bradstreet, and finally the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In the story of The Crucible many moral dilemmas are created. It is about the puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts and how people are singled out and accused falsely of witchcraft. Throughout this account of history key characters have to make choices that challenge their beliefs and ethics. They have to choose between right and wrong, whether to do what they believe is true or lie to get out of harm’s way. Through this immense pressure these people do not always make the right choice, although some do stay on the right path.

One of these characters that we come across is Giles Corey. He is an elderly farmer that has lived in the town of Salem. His wife Martha is accused of witchcraft and is condemned to death if she will not confess for her crime against the very foundations of the Bible. She is accused of this horrible crime only because of the fact that she likes to read. Giles knows that his wife is totally innocent and sets out to prove this. He has been in many lawsuits before and he has an idea of what he needs to do. Giles finds out that Thomas Putnam told his daughter to accuse George Jacobs of witchcraft. If Jacobs is found guilty his land will be put up for auction, and Giles knows that Putnam is the only man wealthy enough to buy the large piece of land. When the court asks Giles who told him of this deceitfulness, Giles cannot and is faced with his moral dilemma. If he tells the name of the person that told him, that person might be persecuted, but if he does not tell they will hold him in contempt of court and he will go to jail. Giles sticks to his beliefs and does not tell the name of his friend. For this outrage he is put on the ground and rocks are put on him until he is pressed to death with them. His last words are, “More weight,”(page 883) because he knows that he is doing the right thing.

The next character that has to choose from a very hard decision is the child Mary Warren. Mary Warren is a servant in John Procter’s household. She is a very timid girl that can be easily influenced by her peers. She is among the children that start the story of witches in the town of Salem, and she knows that they have been making the entire story up from the very beginning. Proctor convinces her to testify that the others are making the whole thing up. She is faced with the predicament in which she can rat out her fellow friends or go along with them and stay with the lie. As she is testifying against the girls, they turn on her. They start going crazy and begin to scream that Mary is witching them. Mary knows that the town has believed the girls so far, and if she stays against them she will surely be condemned also. She then makes a choice to lie and confess that she was lying because Proctor told her to. Mary says, “I’ll not hang with you! I love God, I love God.” (page 876) and then she tells the people that

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