Honors American Literature 1st hour
10 October 2011
In Salem during the witch trails it was a time to largely distrust and place blame on seemingly innocent acts. People with stellar reputations fell victim and their lives were never the same.Through out the play a series of unfortunate events, led to the conviction of innocent town members for witchcraft. Reverend Parris, John Proctor, and Abigail were the most prominent characters in the events that led to the Salem witch trials in the play, “The Crucible.”
In the beginning of the play, Reverend Parris is the character with the power in the town of Salem. Though he was the town reverend and was a man in authority, he was not a good leader. Parris though not the most dominant character in the book, was influential in the accusations leading to convictions of some innocent people of Salem. Reverend Parris played a part in the escalating trials by allowing decent people with good reputations in the town of Salem and other close towns to be accused of outrageous wrongdoings. He saw Abigail, Betty, and other girls in the woods dancing, and he alarmed others by sensationalizing this situation. When Parris called in Reverend Hale, it showed the people in Salem that he could not control the situation involving witchcraft. Abigail took advantage of Reverend Hale who came into the town as an outsider, without knowledge of the town and the towns people and therefore placed blame on her nemeses which Hale didn’t know as either respectable or immoral people. Parris knew that these people were innocent, but because he was a weak leader did not argue against her, and left it for the court to decide. “Abigail, I have fought here three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character” (Miller 11). This quote shows how Reverend Parris is a pathetic authority figure and unable to successfully intervene to stop Abigail’s drama and risk losing any power and control he has in the town.
The character John Proctor is also partially responsible for the witch trials in Salem. John is both directly and non-directly related to the witch trials. John was one of the innocent town members convicted of witch craft. Further compromising his position is that he had an affair with Abigail, which led to her initiation with witchcraft. If John had not led Abigail on and had taken her virginity she would not have thought he loved her. Abigail was accused of witchcraft after she was spotted drinking blood to kill Elizabeth Proctor, John’s wife. Abigail was in love with John, and told him that all of this had nothing to do with witchcraft. John had this information and didn’t tell anyone else about it. “I-I have no witness and cannot prove it, except my word be taken. But I know the children’s sickness had not to do with witchcraft “(Miller 68). John kept this crucial evidence from people with more authority than himself and Elizabeth his wife, by doing this it allowed Abigail to further falsely blame more individuals.
Abigail is the most significant character that led to the convictions of the Salem towns’ people. She blamed everyone that she believed to be outsiders, and lower class in Salem of witchcraft. Without her character, the story would not have enfolded in the manner it did. She instigated the situation and as a result many of the townspeople of Salem had to suffer horrible consequences. At this point in the play Abigail and her younger cousin Betty named people in the town and telling Reverend Hale that they are witches. “I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osborn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil (Miller 48)! Abigail was the leader of the girls that were convicting all of the Salem citizens. She forced them all to act as if they were being possessed by the convicted persons’ witchcraft. Abigail formed this assemblage of girls, and without Abigail’s’ leader ship none of them would have thought to place blame on this innocent beings. All she wanted was to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor who was stopping her from getting Johns affection and by doing so she took the lives of many helpless people of Salem.
In the end of “The Crucible” many innocent people die, and lies are finally put to rest. The trials in Salem would not have occurred without the involvement of Reverend Parris, John Proctor, and Abigail. Despite the lies and mistruths during the trials, truths were eventually told and there reputations remained untarnished
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin Group, 1982. Print.