The Crucible was a play written by Arthur Miller in the 1950s filled with lies, deceit, and hysteria. Set in the puritanical town of Salem Massachusetts, one could never imagine the day when a town of God fell to the devil's grasp. However, the city was only puritanical on the surface. In the early 1690s, Salem supposedly became ridden with witches and devils' advocates. Seeing as how Salem was a pure town, the "witches" were hunted down and erased from existence. Based mainly on the lies spun by three people, the one comparative simple lie told in the beginning wound up brutally and ludicrously out of hand. The three people held most accountable for the Salem witch trials in The Crucible were the town's Reverend, Samuel Parris, his niece Abigail Williams, and the influential town member John Proctor.
With all the responsibility placed on him at the time, it is just automatically assumed that the Reverend Samuel Parris was partly accountable for the Salem witch trials. Parris was selfish, greedy, spineless, and extremely concerned about the way he appeared to others. When he first inquired his niece about her and her friends’ questionable doings, he was more so concerned of what his followers might think of the girls' activities and losing his supporters rather than his acquaintances and relatives actually being witches. “Abigail, I have fought here three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to me…” (Miller 11). His personality paved the way for the continuation of the story. The Reverend was told the truth; that the two girls had only fainted from fright from his sudden appearance in the woods. However, as a precautionary method and to save himself from any oncoming trouble, he called Reverend Hale (the other Reverend) to Salem to investigate the possibility of witchcraft. He was too spineless to deal with the rumor of witchcraft himself. Swayed by the hysterics of others while knowing the truth, he let the game of witch crying continue. He was perfectly content with the turn of events until townspeople realized that so much more was happening than just the cleansing of evil. In the latter part of the witch trials, they recognized vindictiveness and ridiculousness, and decided that since Parris was leading them he was to blame. He finally came to his senses and asked for the postponement of John Proctor’s execution, but only until his own well being was threatened. “Tonight, when I open my door to leave my house- a dagger clattered to the ground. You cannot hang this sort! There is danger for me. I dare not step outside at night” (Miller 129). The lack of leadership while being a leader and the other parts of his personality as well was what made him partially liable for the Salem witch trials. Also responsible for withholding information, though he did not have an appalling personality, was John Proctor.
John Proctor was an influential man in Salem. An honest and hardworking farmer, he was respected widely throughout the community. However, he wasn't perfect. He had his moments, and some rather extreme moments at that; specifically, the infidelity with Abigail. The act of adultery complicated many matters for John and his family's well-being. His previously ill wife was obviously jilted by this committed sin. However, he wasn't fazed. "Then how do you charge me with such a promise? The promise that a stallion gives a mare I gave that girl" (Miller 62)! The affair meant nothing to him. Strangely enough, he still had a thing for Abigail, and even though he constantly denied it, Abigail was obsessed with him, thinking that he loved her instead of his wife. However, his leftover feelings for her completely disappeared once Abigail accused his wife of being a witch. "You mad, you murderous bitch"(Miller 152)! Proctor never believed in witchcraft from the beginning. He knew the truth about the incident that triggered the trials, as Parris did also. Proctor confessed the truth and the affair to try and help not only his family, but as well as other families in Salem. Unfortunately, his act of good was useless. By the time the truth came out, Abigail was too powerful and had the court in her clutches. Also, his wife denied the very existence of the affair, thinking she was saving him. One of her fellow witch criers blatantly accused John of being a witch himself. John decided he would rather hang than to indict others of being seen with the Devil. "I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it" (Miller 141). If only John had not been so naive and weak-minded, the madness could have stopped before it got out of hand. Another influential Salemite, although for the wrong reasons, was Abigail Williams.
Abigail Williams before the witch trials was of little importance. However, during the witch trials, she exploited her power like no other. It was her that first instigated the crying of witches. When the Reverends began to question the girls, Abigail took care of them. She was a natural born leader, always being quick on her feet. Taking charge, she blamed Tituba. “She made me do it! She made Betty do it” (Miller 43)! However, Tituba was able to shift the blame to others in the village. Once Abby saw this and how well Tituba’s actions were being received, she decided to play along. “I want to open myself! I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil: I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil” (Miller 48)! Since Abigail was a natural born leader, others followed her example without hesitation and began accusing other members of Salem. She continued to make accusations, even though she knew none of them were true from the start. She even knew that the girls had fainted form fright. “Oh posh! We were dancin’ in the woods last night, and my uncle leaped in on us. She took fright, is all” (Miller 22-23). However, she continued her power play. “Are you! I’ve heard that people ride a hundred mile to see your face these days” (Miller 148). She used her new found power to take care of her personal revenges on people she didn’t like. For example, she accused the wife of her once lover, John Proctor, of witchcraft. She wanted to be his wife, and took the perfect opportunity to get rid of her. She was the major cause of the Salem witch trials.
The Crucible was written about the Salem witch trials. Those trials were caused mainly by three people: Reverend Samuel Parris, John Proctor, and Abigail Williams. Reverend Samuel Parris was at fault for withholding crucial information. John Proctor was responsible for the same thing, as well as being intimate with Abigail Williams. Abigail Williams was responsible because she was vindictive and power hungry. All these traits combined to make one of the most outrageous moments in American History.