The Crucible - Self-Preservation

1048 Words Jun 17th, 2014 5 Pages
Self-preservation and the downfall of Salem

Self-preservation is the act of protecting one’s self. It is often correlated with pain and fear and it is regarded as a basic human instinct. People often use self-preservation to protect their image and reputation in society, thus potentially having to lie and hurt someone else’s status in the process. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, many characters demonstrate self-preservation to avoid the consequences of their own actions. This results in prolonging the witch trials in the town of Salem, causing the destruction of the community.

Reverend Samuel Parris is a prime example of a character that uses self-preservation throughout the play to maintain his high position in society.
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He is keen on protecting himself and his family’s name, which involves preserving the trials and its integrity. He cannot have the trials proven to be fraud because the illegitimate support he has for his lying daughter and niece will end his career thus making the community lose their trust and respect for him. The people of Salem are realizing that the assumptions of witchcraft in the village could be false and therefore they no longer believe what Parris and the girls have to say. As a result, Parris desperately craves for Proctor’s confession when he feverishly says, “It is a great service, sir. It is a weighty name; it will strike the village that Proctor confess. I beg you, let him sign it” (Miller 141). Parris is left feeling threatened and scared after finding a note and dagger on his front door from angry villagers who are upset about the noble people in their community being executed. As an act of self-preservation he pleads for a respected person such as John Proctor to confess, so that he can validate the trial to which he strongly favoured, protect his reliability within the society and prove that witches are present in Salem. Parris’ constant acts of self-preservation has backfired and initially if he were honest about the girls dancing in the forest, he could have avoided the complicated court trials that left many innocent people to die

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