The Crucible Overview Essay

Priyanka Kapur Ms. Ragland H. American Lit 24 September 2012 Abigail and Reverend Hale: The Characters of the “Devil” During the time of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, there were people with manipulative and equivocal personalities who drastically altered the aspects of Massachusetts. Consequently, chaos caused an intractable problem in the government of Salem, and its principles ruined. Thus, in Miller’s The Crucible, Miller shows, through fictional characters, how and who the Salem Witch Trials affected and how or by whom it was caused.

Taking advantage of the mass hysteria in Salem, Abigail Williams and Reverend John Hale heavily influenced the Salem Witch Trials; Abigail started the witchcraft rumors and was responsible for the hangings of several people and Reverend Hale, who thought of himself as a knowledgeable person of witchcraft, and towards the end was devastated with the revelation that he had in fact, part-taken in the “Devil’s work. ” * In relation to The Crucible by Miller, Abigail supports the 3rd definition of crucible because of her manipulative and conniving personality and how she feeds upon the fear of Salem’s people to create mass hysteria.

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For example, Abigail’s relationship with Elizabeth is hostile and bitter and she strongly dislikes Elizabeth with a fiery passion because of Elizabeth’s marriage with John Proctor. She is a liar when she says, “Why, I am sure it is, sir. There is no blush about my name (Miller. I. 11),” in response to the rumor of her affair with John Proctor. Abigail gets Mary Warren to plant a poppet in Elizabeth’s house so that there is compelling evidence against Elizabeth, and this shows that Abigail is really manipulative and aggressive.

Abigail shows her scheming personality when she says, “She hates me, Uncle, she must, for I would not be her slave. It’s a bitter woman, a lying, cold, sniveling woman, and I will not work for such a woman (Miller. I. 11). ” By saying this, she puts the blame on Elizabeth Proctor because Elizabeth had thrown her out of the house when she found out about the affair between Abigail and John Proctor. In addition, Abigail uses threats in order to get others to do the wrong thing. Her destructive and volatile personality is reflected when she says, “Let either of you…you have never seen the sun go down (Miller. I. 19)! The way she says this quote coerces the girls into following Abigail’s lead and her instructions. Her menacing personality is once again reflected when Mary, on the insistence of John Proctor, tries to tell the court that her friends were “sporting” in the woods. At that point, Abigail turns the tables on Mary by convincing the court that Mary’s spirit was out to get Abigail and the others. “Look out! She’s coming down (Miller. 3. 1211)! ” * Consequently, Abigail also supports the 1st definition of crucible because she builds upon the fear of others, which causes the “fire” to spread around the town of Salem.

People who were treated in high regard (Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Martha) were wrongly accused for practicing witchcraft. This allowed people like Putnam and Parris to take advantage of the mass hysteria in Salem and pursue their own interests of greed and vengeance. This resulted in the hangings of innocent people. In Act III, Proctor, in order to save his wife’s life, confesses to having an affair with Abigail, which ends in Proctor losing his life. This reflects how she plays upon the emotions of Salem’s people to her advantage.

On the other hand, Reverend undergoes a severe test on his personal opinion about his ability to detect witchcraft in others. His high opinion of himself is reflected in, “They must be; they are weighted with authority (Miller. III. 34). ” In the beginning of the story, Reverend John Hale is not sure about the innocence of the Proctors and continues to pursue practice of witchcraft among the people in Salem. However, towards the end of the book, he decides to try and save Proctor’s life by persuading Elizabeth Proctor in convincing him to plead guilty so that he would not be hanged.

He supports this by saying, “What profit him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms declare his truth (Miller. IV. 207) [Reverend John Hale in the Crucible]. ” In Act Two, Hale questions Elizabeth Proctor on her religious beliefs. This is reflected when she says, “I cannot think the Devil… I do not believe it (Miller. II. 1174). ” In his questioning of John Proctor’s knowledge of the Ten Commandments, John Proctor failed to bring up the Tenth Commandment of adultery.

Hale continues to ask Proctor questions and urges him to baptize his third child by saying, “ God keep you both [Elizabeth and John], let the third child be baptized (Miller. III. 1174). ” In act IV, Hale’s last effort to wash some of the blood off his hands fails. He tells Danforth, “You must pardon them. They will not budge ( Miller. IV. 122). ” Despite his early enthusiasm about being a scholar in the detection of witchcraft, he ends up defending Proctor and believing that Abigail was a fraud.

Towards the end, he is distraught with fear that he had taken part in the executions of innocent people, therefore doing “Devil’s work (Grade Saver). ” * * Abigail and Reverend Hale are two of the dynamic characters in The Crucible. They both have certain strengths (the power of persuasion, bravery, and imagination), and weaknesses (fear, silence, anger, manipulation, vengeance) , which greatly influenced the outcomes of the Salem witchcraft trials. Abigail’s personality stems from the fact that she was a victim of past trauma; an orphan who watched her parents beaten to death by Indians.

In contrast, Reverend Hale was a scholar from Beverly who came to investigate supernatural causes for Betty Parris’ illnesses and stays back to investigate rumors about witchcraft. He leaves Salem, disillusioned that in reality, he had done the “Devil’s work” by sending innocent people to their death (Grade Saver). Works Cited Miller. The Crucible. London: Penguin Books, 1953. Print. 22 Sep. 2012. Shmoop Editorial Team. “Reverend John Hale in The Crucible” Shmoop. com. Shmoop University, Inc. , 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 22 Sep. 2012. * “GradeSaver. ” . N. p. , n. d. Web. 23 Sep 2012. <www. gradesaver. com>.

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