In examining popular, tragedy-style theater pieces, it becomes apparent that human morality is a prevalent theme, as it consistently appears throughout various stories. William Shakespeare’s notable play Macbeth, to provide an exemplar, contains such a matter; the literary masterpiece explores the issues of guilt, and the loss of one’s integrity. A perfect display of these conflicts occurs in Act III, scene IV, during which Macbeth struggles with the realisation that he has become a murderer, and will remain forever bound to his crimes:
"I am in blood /Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o'er"
(Macbeth, III, IV, 24-36)
Macbeth reveals his feelings of horror as he realises that he may be unable to redeem himself after committing a gruesome murder. The tragic character has, to be precise, come to understand that he is drowning in the repercussions of his crime, and has no way to reclaim his previous innocence. Ultimately, Macbeth begins to grasp that his conscience has become streaked with guilt, a result of the loss of his prior moral values, or integrity. Macbeth, unfortunately, dies in vain, his death a product of ambitious desires and foolish hope. He is killed without his integrity intact. He does not, before his death, attempt to reclaim his virtues, or underlying moral principles. In Macbeth’s story, William Shakespeare leaves the audience with the message that humans are often overcome with a lust for success, and will, as a result, abandon their integrity. The result of this abandonment is a burden-heavy guilt. Nevertheless, William Shakespeare’s approach to human morality in Macbeth is not repeated by all other tragedy authors, one such writer being Arthur Miller. In contrast, the playwright Arthur Miller delivers to his audience the theory that humans ultimately favour the adherence to their moral principles, and will consistently seek to reclaim their integrity so that they are not filled with guilt. These ideas are examined in-depth throughout the fourth, and final, act of Miller’s acclaimed drama The Crucible. Specifically, the actions and thoughts of the primary characters John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, and Reverend Hale throughout the act demonstrate mankind’s desire to redeem integrity, in the hopes that one is not left with the consuming weight of guilt.
Arthur Miller uses his middle-aged, father character, John Proctor, to illustrate the idea that humans desire to maintain their integrity, and will attempt to reclaim it so that they are not forced to suffer from the overshadowing pillar of guilt. Specifically, Proctor cannot bring himself to abandon his morality, despite the fact that in doing so he would be permitted to keep his life. John Proctor suffers from guilt and shame after confessing in court to his affair with seventeen-year old Abigail Williams; a secret he reveals when he believes doing so will expose Abigail as a fraud. During Act IV, in his final discussion with...