The importance placed on reputation helps perpetuate hysteria because it leads to inaction, inflexibility, and, in many cases, active sabotage of the reputations of others for selfish purposes.
The overall message is that when a person's actions are driven by desires to preserve favorable public opinion rather than do the morally right thing, there can be extremely dire consequences.
Once there have been enough convictions, the reputations of the judges also become factors.
They are extremely biased towards believing they have made the correct sentencing decisions in court thus far, so they are reluctant to accept new evidence that may prove them wrong.
The price he has to pay in reputation to save his own life is ultimately too high.
The people in charge are so eager to hold onto their power that if anyone disagrees with them in the way the trials are conducted, it is taken as a personal affront and challenge to their authority.At the end this act, John Proctor delivers a short monologue anticipating the imminent loss of the disguises of propriety worn by himself and other members of the Salem community.The faces that people present to the public are designed to garner respect in the community, but the witch trials have thrown this system into disarray.He believes that “Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now.While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering” (pg. In the final events of Act 4, John Proctor has a tough choice to make between losing his dignity and losing his life.In one of the most well-known quotes in the play, John Proctor angrily insists that “the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom” (pg.73), meaning the girls are testing out the extent of the chaos they can create with their newfound power.And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out." (Cheever pg. The idea that a witch's familiar spirit is capable of stabbing people is too scary for the superstitious and now hysterical people of Salem to give Elizabeth the benefit of the doubt.No one even considers Mary's statement about sticking the needle in herself.In this environment, whoever yells the loudest seems to get the most credibility.When the petition testifying to the good character of the accused women is presented, the reaction from Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris is to arrest the people who signed it rather than considering that this might indicate that the women are innocent.