The two characters, John Proctor and Giles Corey in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, both illuminate the theme that “it is nobler to die with integrity than to live without self-respect.” They both proved that they were willing to die for what they believed in and be truthful, rather than live with a lie.
John Proctor repeatedly displayed his acts of integrity throughout the play. It was far more valuable to him to die truthful than to live on without any self respect. In Act 3, Proctor had an extremely difficult decision to make, either maintain his secret regarding his affair with Abigail or confess to lechery in attempt to save his wife, Elizabeth, by discrediting her. Proctor has proved that he is a man who values honesty and because of this, he cannot lie. He couldn’t keep the secret any longer and calls Abigail a “..whore” (110) and takes the court by surprise. His confession to the affair leaves his integrity untouched, even though it severely damages his reputation. Later in the book, Proctor is faced with another trial proving his sincerity. He will be hanged if he continues to refuse that he has been involved with witchcraft. “You will not use me! I am no Sarah Good or Tituba, I am John Proctor! You will not use me! It is part of salvation that you should use me!” (142-143). He is pressured to lie and provide false information but he refuses to put his principles and morals aside to save his life. Even after everything he had endured, he says “I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor” (144) meaning that after everything he had gone through regardless of everyone else’s thoughts, he knew he kept up his virtue.
Another character in The Crucible who deeply cares and shows concerns about their integrity is Giles Corey. When the controversy and chaos broke out in Salem, Giles carelessly mentions something about his wife reading books, and not mentioning it to him, which somehow was disrupting his prayers. “It discomfits me! Last night–mark this–I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly–mark this–I could pray again!” (40) Not realizing what he had done, Giles Corey had just accidently sentenced his wife to be hanged. The hysteria over witches being present in Salem continues to grow, and Gile’s wife is tried as a witch. When he realizes what he has caused, Giles is overcome by agony and guilt. He begs for his wife to be released. In court, Giles gives evidence that Putnam falsely accused a man as a witch, to gain his land. The judge asks Giles to give him the name of the man who heard Putnam’s conversation as evidence. Giles refuses to give the name just to protect him, while he himself would face the consequences: “I will not give you no name. I mentioned my wife’s name once and I’ll burn in hell long enough for that. I stand mute.” (97) Giles Corey becomes a hero when he is tortured to death for remaining quiet. Instead of giving the court a name, which would free himself and cause another man to hang, Giles mutters only “more weight” as he is crushed to death by heavy stones. This also shows how he would rather stick to his own principles and be truthful rather than lie to save himself.
In The Crucible, John Proctor and Giles Corey convey the chosen theme perfectly. They were both so similar in the sense that even during the hysteria, they stuck to their morals and would rather risk it all and tell the legitimacy of the situation than lie to save themselves from the madness of the trials.