The Path Less Traveled
Life can present some very delicate situations in which human beings are required to make extremely difficult decisions.Two men, John Proctor and Franz Jaegerstaetter, were each put in very similar situations and were forced to make one of these extremely difficult life choices.Although different in terms of the time period and their oppressors, the general basis of their situations are parallel.The matter to be evaluated is whether or not these men made an intelligent decision when they had the chance.
In the simplest of terms, the men could either die and keep their moral integrity or live to serve an unjust cause, placing self-preservation as a higher priority than their morals.John Proctor and Franz Jaegerstaetter made the intelligent decision because by dying they kept their moral integrity and demonstrated the ultimate insult to the opposing force.They showed their families that they have enough will power to die for what is right, and even if they had lived, their presence would have had a very minimal impact on the situation. Disregarding any religious beliefs about the after life and reincarnation, it is factual that death is the end of our time as human beings.That is a very weighty statement.In The Crucible, Reverend Hale states the importance and preciousness of life noting that life is God’s most valued gift to human beings and stresses how one must respect this gift and protect it at all costs.
Hale is correct, life is precious and important.With that being said, giving ones life yet maintaining your morals is indeed the ultimate insult to any opposing force.It is the most meaningful statement one could ever make without ever using a single word.An action like this shows that the individual is so disgusted, so nauseated by the actions of this force that the individual would rather take their own life instead of joining that particular force.One may argue that John Proctor and Franz Jaegerstaetter accomplished nothing by giving up their lives because once a person is dead that person can no longer influence anything on earth.On the contrary, the action of taking one’s life voices your dissatisfaction more than any action or protest could ever accomplish.
Their decision was intelligent in that any observer would realize that the actions of the current regime were so unsettling because the men gave their lives rather than follow all human instinctual behavior of self-preservation.These actions are staggering and eye opening and serves as a very bold indignity while maintaining personal values. Franz and John both had families that they were responsible for providing for.John had three boys and another child on the way at the time of his death and Franz had three daughters.The main goals of a parent are to provide for their children as well as guide them and nurture them to a point where they can be successful independently.
Part of that general definition of being a parent is to display proper behavior as an influential role model.By choosing death, an argument can be formed that these men were abandoning their parental responsibilities.A valid rebuttal is that the men were actually fulfilling their parental responsibilities by setting a good example by not complying with a wrongful command.The reasoning behind this is that yes, those children were then without a father in their lives but at least they could grow up knowing that the man they looked up to was brave enough to die rather than serve a force that was inherently evil.Franz also argues that just because you decide to form a family and have other responsibilities does not mean you are excused from your responsibilities to God.
” I cannot believe that just because one has a wife and children, he is free to offend God.Did not Christ himself say ‘He who loves father, mother or children more than me is not deserving of my kingdom,?” (Justpeace Online)The same concept can be applied to Proctor.Just as choosing to take your life is the ultimate insult to the unjust and evil force, it is also the ultimate example of total commitment in teaching your children a critical lesson.Actions speak louder than words, and in this case, no amount of words can possibly get this lesson across, only action. When people think of opposing someone or something, they usually think of combat in a war, or combat in a sporting event.
When the situation of Proctor and Jaegerstaetter are analyzed, the realization is made that physical combat would not be deemed effective.These men are questioned for their actions because it is believed that dying is escaping the situation instead of living and finding other ways to oppose it.The Nazi Regime and the Court of Salem were so corrupt that no amount of persuasion would change their views on things.The Court of Salem was listening to teenage girls religiously with spectral evidence as the only form of evidence.There were no concrete facts or proven testimony.
In addition to this, if an individual dared to even hint their dissatisfaction with the court they would be thrown in jail for attempting to overthrow it.By the time John had to make his decision the court was in too deep.Even if they realized their faults they could not admit them without making themselves look excessively foolish and infuriating the families who had been torn apart.The Nazi Regime is very similar only on a much larger scale.Even if Franz had lived and sought other ways to oppose them, he would have been discovered and executed immediately.
The point of the matter is by dying as their own choice, they are making more of a statement than they could have ever made by living and making a minimal impact.It holds more meaning to an observer to die rather than to be killed by force.Their deaths represent a finally of defiance and equate to much more than anything they could have done if they had chosen to live. It only seems logical to give your life and possibly feed immeasurable amounts of momentum rather than make an irrelevant impact only to lose it later. John Proctor and Franz Jaegerstaetter were faced with a decision that no man should have to experience.In this decision their lives hung in the balance.Both men chose to accept death rather than serve an unjust cause.With all decisions, especially ones that affects others, scrutiny is presented in some form.The decision to die rather than live was intelligent because death is the ultimate insult to any opposition.It makes more of an impact than any futile action could accomplish.Both men had families to care for.This means they had children looking up to them and setting the right example is essential even though it was a very difficult to do so.The final reason is that even if they chose to live, no action could possibly change the ways and thought process of the evil they were facing.The opposition was too corrupt and too consumed with their way of doing things changing their opinion would have been in vain.That is why the decision that John Proctor and Franz Jaegerstaetter made to die rather than serve an evil was an intelligent decision.