Building Context: Characters/characterization The Crucible MP1 American Literature
Introducing the Characters of The Crucible
This will help you build context so you don’t dive into the Crucible cold!
When you become familiar with the characters, think about what they represent
What are their good and bad qualities?
Meet John Proctor…
Proctor is the central character of the play.
He is a farmer in his thirties; outwardly, he appears a man of integrity and good sense.
He has a sound reputation within the community even if he is not liked by all of his neighbors.
However, he committed the sin of adultery, and feels like a fraud
More on John
He lives in a strained relationship with his wife Elizabeth.
The true depth of their love, however, is revealed in the final act. It is in Act Four that Miller brings his character to his final moment of truth, where Proctor must look deep into his conscience and discover what is truly important to him: his 'name'.
Tied up in his concern for his own 'self', and integrity, is his concern for others. JOHN IS FLAWED, BUT NOBLE.
The Things to Remember About John
John is flawed, but noble and courageous.
John represents the struggle of the individual against an unjust authority.
Elizabeth is married to John; she is a good, honest woman
Elizabeth first appears in Act 2, singing lullabies to her children
Atmosphere in the house tense with coming to terms with husband's adultery
She is accused of being cold by both Proctor and Abigail
But she recognizes Abigail's' intentions before Proctor
Her love and understanding for Proctor is evident in the last act, when she leaves him to decide whether to confess
Abigail: Masterful Manipulator
Orphaned niece of Parris
Leads Salem citizen in frenzied witch hunt
Able to manipulate uncle, control other girls, and seduce Proctor
Elizabeth is only person she can't beguile, thus earning Abigail's abhorrence
Naming of witches gives her power, excitement, and revenge
Good at reading events and situation and acting accordingly
ABIGAIL REPRESENTS THOSE WHO CAN FUEL THE FLAME OF EVIL.
Rebels against Puritan oppression by seducing and dancing
Arrogance is her undoing—but only after significant damage
Does not appear in last act, underscoring that the play is ultimately about Proctor's destiny and conscience
Danforth: Religious/Political Leader of Community
Represents authority of law and church within community
Serious about position and importance
Note his speech in Act 3
Determination to enforce law is unrelenting; inflexible and unemotional
Does not allow work of the court to be questioned
How is this dangerous?
Not interested in the individual
Allows horror of witch hunt to continue
Does he believe all that the girls allege or have events gone too far to stop without undermining his own authority?
Will not change course even though there are many innocent victims
Hale enjoys the nature of his calling
Despite his assertion he will not necessarily find witchcraft, it is apparent he assumes it is present
Hale changes dramatically during the play, and comes to accept the responsibility of what he started
He tries to rectify wrongs, but it's impossible
Dynamic vs. Static Characters
Dynamic characters change over the course of a play or novel; they learn from events and experiences
Hale is a DYNAMIC character
Static characters remain the same, and do not change
Danforth is a STATIC character
Parris and Giles Corey
Unpopular in Salem
Greedy and selfish
Tears in opening scene not for his daughter but for his own reputation and down fall
Supports trial as long as own position is secure
His change in Act 4 occurs from threats to his life, NOT from guilt or compassion
Initially, a comic character
Procter deals with his argumentative nature in a good hearted way
Unwittingly implicates wife in witchcraft, and is arrested after refusing to name an informant
Eventually tortured in effort to extract a confession
Elderly and respected Rebecca is one of the voices of good sense in the play
Hale has already heard of her good reputation before meeting her.
The conviction of Rebecca reveals how low the community at Salem has fallen
She goes to her death with dignity and acceptance.
Weak, easily influenced
Intimidated in court, easily "turned" by Abigail into testifying against Proctor
Represents how fear perpetuates wrong doing; she was too afraid to speak the truth and exonerate the Proctors
Illustrates how weak people are used by stronger people to perpetuate wrongdoing
Bitter couple representing jealousy, small-mindedness, and greed
Ann Putnam sent daughter to conjure up spirits to begin with
Thomas Putnam sought to gain from the tragedies of others
Elmo…. Is NOT a character in the Crucible
The Crucible – The Movie Of course, in the movie version of The Crucible , Winona Ryder plays Evil Abby, and Daniel Day Lewis plays flawed, but good John Proctor