The test of a courageous person is the ability to bear defeat without losing heart. This happens when a person is challenged with an overwhelming obstacle that is immposible to defeat, but when overcome the person still emerges with his dignity. Two works that illustrate this are the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller and the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is possible not to overcome an obstacle and still manage to be victorious.
This is true for John Proctor a Puritan from Puritan New England, who was defeated, but died with his dignity. One example is seen when Abigail with whom John had an affair, convinced the jury his wife, Elizabeth was a witch. John did not wan this wife to pay for his sins and he admitted to the truth of his adultery knowing his fate would be death. During this chaos John is accused of witchcraft. He refused to admit to being a witch and would not spare his life by admitting to a lie. The jury would let him live if he confessed but he chose his fate and told the truth.
He had far too much dignity to lie in order to save himself he rather the truth be known. Another example is obvious when he made a false confession to practicing witchcraft but could not sign it because he wanted to keep his good name for his sons and die a martyr. Even though he was put to death he still was victorious because he did not lose his dignity by admitting to a lie. Another Character who illustrates the statement is The Scarlet Letter’s Hester Pryne who throughout the novel is antagonized by everyone in the town but still does not lose heart. One example is clear when she must stand on the scaffold in front of the entire town to be ridiculed for her sin of adultery.
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She never lowers herself by yelling back at the crowd. The crowd called her crue names and described how they would have punished her. Therefore she keeps her dignity by not resorting to their childish level. She also must wear a scarlet “A” on everything she wears as a constant reminder of her sin. When she walks through the town the people see the “A” and yell at her ans call her names but she never responds. Another Example when she does not lose heart involves her husband, Roger Chillingworth, He comes to the town after being held captive by the Indians.
When he arrives he pretends to be a doctor and is slowly destroys Reverend Dimmesdale, Hester’s lover. Chillingworth poses as a doctor to help the sickly Dimmesdale. However Chillingworth is actually giving him potions and special Indian medicines to make him feel even more ill. By doing this Chillingworth is slowly destroying Hester’s life as well. Soon she devises a plan to run away with Dimmesdale and her daughter Pearl. When Chillingworth discovers this he makes arrangements to come along.
This crushes Hester’s dreams of happiness with her family, but she still manages not to give up. Even after Dimmesdale finally confesses to adultery and dies and Chillingworth dies she still makes her life in the town the best it can be. Now people in the town ask her for advice, which is ironic, because in the beginning of the novel she was looked down upon. She is now seen as a wise women. In the novel Hester Pryne endured many obstacles but still maintained her dignity and never gave up. These two works demonstrate that a courageous person can be defeated but does not have to give up and still manages to keep their dignity.
This task is difficult but still able to be achieved. John Proctor and Hester Pryne are strong people who were defeated by major problems during their life but were still able to keep their dignity. This theme is found throughout literature and is difficult to achieve but not immposible.
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