The Crucible: Characters

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The Crucible: Characters Chetan Patel The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller that was first produced in 1953, is based on the true story of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Miller wrote the play to parallel the situations in the mid-twentieth century of Alger Hiss, Owen Latimore, Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, and Senator McCarthy, if only suggestively. (Warshow 116) Some characters in the play have specific agendas carried out by their accusations, and the fact that the play is based on historical truth makes it even more intriguing. The characters in this play are simple, common people. The accused are charged and convicted of a crime that is impossible to prove. The following witchcraft hysteria takes place in one of America's wholesome, theocratic towns, which makes the miscarriage of justice such a mystery even today. The reasons the villains select the people they do for condemnation are both simple and clear. All of the accusers have ulterior motives, such as revenge, greed, and covering up their own behavior. Many of the accusers have meddled in witchcraft themselves, and are therefore doubly to be distrusted. (Warshow 116) The court convicts the victims on the most absurd testimony, and the reader has to wonder how the judges and the townspeople could let such a charade continue. The leading character of the play is John Proctor, a man who often serves as the only voice of reason in the play. He had an affair with Abigail Williams, who later charges his wife with witchcraft. Proctor is seemingly the only person who can see through the children's accusations. The reader sees him as one of the more "modern" figures in the trials because he is hardheaded, skeptical, and a voice of common sense. He thinks the girls can be cured of their "spells" with a good whipping. (Warshow 114) At the end of the play, Proctor has to make a choice. He can either confess to a crime he is innocent of to save himself from execution, or die proclaiming his innocence. He ends up choosing death because a false confession would mean implicating other accused people, including Rebecca Nurse. (Rovere 2632) Proctor feels she is good and pure, unlike his adulterous self, and does not want to tarnish her good name and the names of his other innocent friends by implicating them. (Warshow 117) By choosing death, Proctor takes the high road and becomes a true tragic hero. The reader feels that his punishment is unjust (especially since the crime of witchcraft is imagined and unprovable.) Because the trials take place in a Christian, American town, the reader must then wonder if anything like this
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