Changes in Character in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Changes in Character in The Crucible


One definition of  "crucible" is "a severe test of patience and belief, or a trial". This definition pertains to Arthur Miller's four-act play, "The Crucible."  The definition is suiting, because it is during this play that the wills of innocent women and men are put to the test when they are accused of things they did not do. It was the ultimate trial of determination and willpower to withstand such a wretched ordeal. Abigail Williams, Elizabeth and John Proctor, Mary Warren, Reverend Parris and even Reverend Hale had changed drastically because of what they had to go through during the course of the play. However, other characters such as Ezekiel Cheever and Marshall Herrick did not really change noticeably. Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale are two characters in "The Crucible" that did change, and Ezekiel Cheever is one that did not.


      Reverend Samuel Parris is one character from "The Crucible" who changed drastically throughout the course of the play. In the beginning of the play he was regarded as a cruel, sinister, Scrooge-like Reverend. Even in the very first act, he is shown screaming at his slave, Tituba, and furthermore, yelling at Abigail Williams, his very own niece. Furthermore, in Act II, it is revealed that John Proctor attended mass scarcely because he hated Reverend Parris so much. His materialism (as proven with the gold candlesticks) was something that greatly bothered the town of Salem. In Act IV, Reverend Parris is humbled. Having been robbed by Abigail and her friend, Mercy Lewis, he is almost penniless, and thereby modest and sorrowful. He does not talk with the same biting command as he used to.


      Reverend Hale is another character that changes during the course of "The Crucible." Upon his entrance in the midst of Act I, he is depicted as a strong, knowledgeable intellect. His intelligence seems to leave no room for compassion. This is evident by his interrogations which took place during Act III, the Trial, as well as the biographical information provided in Act I of "The Crucible." However, his emotions do come out in Act IV. He appears sympathetic and kindhearted while begging the women in prison to confess to save their lives.


      Unlike the previous two, Ezekiel Cheever is one character in "The Crucible" who does not change throughout the course of the play.  He is shown as an astute gentleman and a patron of the town of Salem. For instance, when he visited John and Elizabeth Proctor at their home with a warrant for Elizabeth's arrest, he was simply doing his job, which was to work for Salem without a complaint. At the end of the play, when he wants to write out John Proctor's confession, again, he is assertive and simply doing his given job. He remains unchanged throughout "The Crucible" because of this. He was unsympathetic toward the hardships of the defendants because he was blinded by the authority of Salem, of which he worked. In addition to being astute, he was also weak.


      It was Reverend Samuel Parris, I profess, who underwent the most drastic change of all the three. He was not only changed in economic standards (from substantially wealthy to poor), but he underwent physical hardships as well as a result of the stress of the Salem Witch Trials. Furthermore, he received punishment for being a miser, and perhaps had learned a lesson regarding the importance and priority of money. While Reverend Hale did soften up a bit, he did not lose anything tangible, nor irrational. Reverend Parris did. 

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"Changes in Character in The Crucible by Arthur Miller." 24 Nov 2015

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