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Storytelling as an Excellent Form to Express People's Public and Personal Personas

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Do you remember Bill Clinton? The 42nd president of the United States, a supposed role model to the nation. Well, his scandal of 1995 reveled that he had an affair with a fellow government worker Monica Lewinski. In this case, Clinton’s choices put in perspective how a person’s public and personal actions and choices can be the complete opposite. Through the action of storytelling, we are able to reveal and experience others conflicting public and personal personas, which make us aware of our own experiences. So, do these stories, in turn, make us aware of how we behave differently to conform in public?

The inner conflicts of John Proctor become an overwhelming entity surrounding his affair with Abigail, in ‘The Crucible’, as a result of his personal choice, John Proctor considers himself as a ‘kind of fraud’, because of his unfaithful actions towards his wife, that go against all good Christian ideals. So, we are aware that in this story John Proctor is both viewed upon as a lesser individual due to his taboo affair with Abigail but has redeeming qualities that are reflected in his high moral standards these bring to question ‘What makes a person good?’, and decodes the social construct of a perfect person in ‘The Crucible’, which can be mirrored in today’s society. John Proctors good morals come into focus when he confesses to witchcraft in “I speak on my own sins, I can’t judge another, I have no tongue for it” through his refusal to incriminate others this shows that he is a man of high moral value. Proctor’s allusion of self-worth is entirely structured upon his ‘good name’ and how others perceive him, in the quote: “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’s overwhelming need to maintain his good name in the town of Salem reflects the importance for others’ opinions and their approval in order to value yourself. When Proctor’s personal flaws collide with his prosperous public identity it makes us aware of our own experiences and how our actions can shape our value of ourselves and others.

Abigail Williams is demonstrated as the villain in this play, a woman, who strived for power and the aspiration of self-preservation. But do we not as individuals living amongst a world of millions of people strive for power? Do we not, when it comes down to it look out for ourselves? And our own interests? Abigail Williams was a victim of circumstance: she was influenced at a young age by John Proctor who provides her with false hope and an excuse for vengeance. Although this choice of villainess behavior is not justified it can be understood. In the personal relationship of Abigail and John, it unleashes a side to Abigail that under other circumstances could’ve been avoided, in the quote: “I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart. I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men! And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not, I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet!”.

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It reveals that Abigail is still in love with John Proctor, the actions taken out against Elizabeth are a result of this obsession. Through the actions of individuals personal lives within this play it has dramatically affected their public persona. Unlike John Proctor who at all costs aims to protect his good name by disassociating his public and personal life, Abigail has let her personal experiences overthrow her and does not act differently to conform in public. Unlike Abigail who contradicts the stereotype of female oppression for her time a character by the name of Mary Maloney from Rold Dahl’s short story ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ definitely conforms to them all. Although this is the case for the introduction of the story, we quickly see her transform before our eyes from a caring, loving housewife to a manipulative and cold-hearted character. Mary’s sudden change can be traced back to the dominance her husband had over her. The quote “At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head”, - embodies the definition of irony, through the use of the word ‘simply’ to describe the actions she is committing it creates irony as there is nothing simple to what she is doing. Through the characters of Abigail and Mary, it is clear that the oppression that they have both individually felt in their personal lives has controlled the way they act publicly. Whilst Abigail conducts herself carelessly out of rage and desire, Mary conducts herself as sophisticated and prepared for the public eye. Both these characters can make us aware of how we as humans act as individuals depending on our individual experiences.

Patrick Maloney, husband to Mary Maloney is a police detective that cares more about his job than his home life. Roald Dahl creates the character of Patrick Maloney to be disliked by the audience, he does this through dialogue with his wife Mary in “’I’ll get it’, she cried, jumping up. ‘Sit down’, - he said… ‘Darling, shall I get your slippers?’. ‘No’”. These are examples of the blunt responses and the ignorant command he when responding to someone he is supposed to care this makes the audience lead towards the direction of dislike, making it more enticing when Mary ironically kills her husband. Through the use of the adjective ‘frightened’ when describing Mary Warren when her husband tells her to ‘sit’ it reveals a slight panic around the relationship and the way, Mary feels about her husband, which shows that Roald Dahl deliberately uses these alarming words to villainize Patrick Maloney. I personally find there to be irony in the fact that he is a police detective who is seen upon by the public as a reliable person who they can trust, with this reputation surrounding him it is completely contradicted by his individual actions away from the public eye. This short story adds to the long list of stories that make us more aware of the difference between our public and personal lives and how our individual experiences can shape those of the people around us.

Storytelling is an excellent form to express people's public and personal personas. This allows the viewer to be more aware of not only the experiences of the people in these stories but of people around us and our own individual experience.

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Storytelling as an Excellent Form to Express People’s Public and Personal Personas. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Storytelling as an Excellent Form to Express People’s Public and Personal Personas.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Storytelling as an Excellent Form to Express People’s Public and Personal Personas. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Mar. 2024].
Storytelling as an Excellent Form to Express People’s Public and Personal Personas [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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