What's Your Reputation?

October 7, 2008
By Anonymous

If you had to look at your past and reputation, do you think it would be seen as a good one? I have always looked and seen more good in someone’s past rather than bad. Abigail Williams in The Crucible definitely had a past filled with more bad things rather than good. Abigail and John Proctor each have a reputation that ends up changing throughout the book. At the end of the book Abby ends up with a good reputation while Proctor ends up with a bad reputation; when at the beginning it was the opposite.

When we are first introduced to Abigail Williams, it is known that she is the niece to the Reverend Parris in the town of Salem. Abigail is an orphan and came to live with her uncle. Abigail has a bad reputation for lying. We know this because in the stage directions for her character the book says, “Abigail Williams, seventeen, enters-a strikingly beautiful girl, and orphan, with an endless capacity for dissembling.” (Miller 8, 9) At the very beginning of the book, Abigail lies about someone being naked in the woods whenever she and all of the other girls were dancing. She lied even though Parris saw a dress lying of the ground, obviously belonging to one of them. Abigail says, “There be no blush about my name.” (Miller 12); meaning there isn’t anything bad in her reputation, when in reality Parris thinks there might be another reason why Mrs. Proctor had fired Abby from her job at the Proctors’ household. She is really lying about why she was fired from her job.
Mr. Proctor is known to have a good reputation. Proctor was respected in Salem, even though some people feared him. It has not yet drawn to the surface that Proctor is a sinner, and is connected to Abigail Williams in that she not only worked for the Proctor house, but had an affair with Proctor as well. At the beginning of the book, Abigail and Mr. Proctor are pretty equal. They have both sinned, and have lied to cover it up. John is married and committed lechery against his wife and is not saying that it is true, and Abby knows why she got fired from her job by Mrs. Proctor but tells everyone that she got fired because Elizabeth hated her. She said Mrs. Proctor was “Bitter, a lying, cold, sniveling woman, and I will not work for such a woman!” (Miller 12) I think that Abby and John should be compared on the same level here because they both committed an immoral sin in the Puritans time.

Throughout the rest of the book, Abby is angry towards John because he tells her he thinks that what they did was wrong; so Abby tries to get Elizabeth framed for being a witch. Even though Abby is going all of these conniving things behind others’ backs, her reputation just keeps on getting better and better because she was never accused of being a witch because she was the one who was always accusing everyone else. All of the sudden she has this perfect reputation where she could never do anything bad, but for Mr. Proctor just the opposite is happening. Towards the middle of the book, when Rev. Hale comes to the Proctors’ house to warn him that it is shown that Proctor hardly every goes to church, and doesn’t know his theology very well. It’s a bad sign that this is happened. Mr. Proctor’s reputation is slowly starting to blacken his face making it look like he is working for the Devil. Also, John’s reputation is starting to worsen because his wife is now being accused of being a witch.

Abigail’s reputation is some what made better at the court hearing because she is accusing Mary Warren of being a witch in the form of a bird and everybody believes her, but Proctor won’t believe what’s going on and claims that they are all under pretense. All he wants to do is save his wife from being hanged. His reputation gets even worse whenever he makes the exclamation that “God is dead,” (Miller 119) and then is taken to jail until he confesses himself as being associated with the Devil or be hanged.

At the end of the novel, Mr. Proctor’s reputation changes once again. He confesses he is associated with the Devil just to save his life so that he can be with Elizabeth again, even though he did not sign the paper saying that he confessed. It would have been hung on the church door and Proctor would have lived but his reputation and name would be so blackened that he would be persecuted everyday. Abby never confessed to anything about lying or trying to get Mrs. Proctor to be hanged. All in all Mr. Proctor died with a good reputation, because there was no written paper saying that he had made a compact with the Devil.

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