A man’s reputation is the focus of his life. A man takes pride in what he makes of himself, and his pride is what gives substance to his life. The loss of a man’s pride reduces him to nothing and ultimately destroys him. Hence, the blackening of the main character’s name in Guilty by Suspicion and The Crucible caused the destruction of his life. John Proctor, the main character in The Crucible, faced the choice between losing his life and losing his reputation-though to him there was no true difference.
Abigail Williams, the antagonist of the play, accused John Proctor of being a witch.
(The Crucible) The townspeople believed that Abigail was, “the finger of God,” (The Crucible) since she confessed her involvement with witchcraft in the forest; the populace’s believing her showed their utter obliviousness to Abigail’s ulterior motives. However, it was the townspeople’s fear of hell and Lucifer that that blinded them from the truth, as displayed when they believed the accusation against the reputable and honest John Proctor.
Following the trial, Judge Hathorne offered John Proctor to give his reputation for his life and the lives of the other innocent prisoners.
(The Crucible) After delegating for some time, John showed the breaking of his integrity when he signed to his having dealings with the devil. His fear for his life compelled him to sign the document. John tore the contract once he realized that he would no longer be able to function in society, thus showing his honesty and integrity.
John Proctor made the right choice in maintaining his integrity and reputation, as he proved his true and honest nature. (The Crucible) David Merrill, the main character portrayed as a prominent director in Guilty by Suspicion, had definite similarities to John Proctor.
The McCarthy hearings called for David’s prosecution. (Guilty by Suspicion) Joseph McCarthy, the character who bears closest resemblance to Abigail Williams, conducted trials to eliminate all Communism in the United States. (Guilty by Suspicion) American citizens feared Communists much like the people of Salem feared the devil. The people of Salem believed that a witch-hunt would banish the devil, just as American citizens believed that the trials would eliminate Communism from the United States. David Merrill’s attendance of two harmless communist parties caused scrutiny of his loyalties, which lead to the loss of his reputation.
(Guilty by Suspicion) Like John Proctor, the court offered Merrill to exchange his reputation for his life by giving the names of others who attended the parties. Faced with time in prison and fines, along with the blacklisting of his name, David made the appropriate decision to save his reputation, the reputation of his friends and the reputation of his nine-year-old son, Paulie: “I want to be able to walk into a room with my friends. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror. ” (Guilty by Suspicion) Many people wanted to know why Merrill didn’t simply answer the government’s questions: “Since when did you become this saint?
… If you want to make this picture, you gotta get yourself straightened up,” said David’s agent, questioning David’s morals and trying to persuade him to reconsider for the sake of his career. (Guilty by Suspicion) “Why don’t you just give them what they want?! … I think you should leave (before anyone sees me with you),” (Guilty by Suspicion) said David’s friend in New York, who took the same standpoint as David’s agent. (Guilty by Suspicion) David’s life was ruined the instant he was suspected; however, like John Proctor, his integrity was maintained by his not condemning innocent people.