The Crucible is a play based on the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. During this period, accusations led to trials and convictions for witchcraft, and twenty people were hanged. Not being honest caused Abigail and her friends to ruin the lives and families of others, such as the Proctors. Her whole goal was to get revenge on Elizabeth Proctor for, in her eyes, disrupting her and John’s not only illegal but immoral affair. This is shown in many places in the book, including when Betty is ill in her room and Abigail is telling everyone not to say anything, when Abigail learns that John will stand by Elizabeth, when Hale questions John about his dedication to the Lord and the Bible, and others. In the most simple sense, this play is about what happens when people lose their sense of integrity.
One place it is shown that bad things happen when people lose integrity is when Reverend Parris will do anything to protect his reputation. He already feels as though people barely respect him as a Reverend, and he is afraid that if him and the girls are honest about what happened, he will lose all respect from everyone and gain himself a tarnished reputation. Said by Reverend Parris, “No – no, I cannot have anyone’. He sees her, and a certain deference springs into him, although his worry remains.” In this quote, he clearly expresses his concern for his position in the town’s social structure, and he doesn’t want anyone to come in and see Betty ‘possessed’ for fear of his own good.
Another place that shows that bad things happen when people lose integrity is when John Proctor refuses to sign the document because he would rather die than lie about something so important. “ Then explain to me, Mr. Proctor, why you will not let – Proctor, with a cry of his whole soul: 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!” Here, it is shown that John Proctor would rather die than have his name and family tarnished for witchcraft and lies. He did the right thing here, however if everyone had just been honest and had integrity before this he would never have had to die. John Proctor died and did his family a favor but also left a terrible legacy, that innocent people had to die because the real people in the wrong wouldn’t confess.
The last place it shows that bad things happen when people lose integrity is when Elizabeth is untruthful in court about Abigail and John’s affair. In the rest of the play she is portrayed as a truthful woman with high integrity, but in this moment she does something that is a shock to the reader. She lies about John and Abigail’s affair saying that it didn’t happen, even though she knew it did, and John had already confessed to it. When John continues to tell the truth, he is eventually hanged. This shows that bad things happen when people lose their integrity, and in Elizabeth’s case losing integrity in a difficult situation.