The Crucible - Important Character Analysis

The Crucible - Important Character Analysis

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In The Crucible, Arthur Miller establishes the universal theme that good does not always prevail over evil. It shows that fear and suspicion can produce a mass hysteria that destroys public order and rationality. This theme is clearly identified through the character's actions throughout the play. Three characters in the play demonstrate different types of human condition through the decisions they make. Reverend Hale and John Proctor represent the human condition to choose rationally while Danforth advocates a more traditional side. All but Danforth have a change of heart from the given situation. The Crucible argues that even when a society is corrupt, a person with high moral character can follow their conscience to make a good decision.
Reverend Hale is called to Salem to help solve the witchcraft chaos. At first he is confident in doing his job as a reverend by following the church standards. He agrees with the court?s tactics, which involves searching for confessions to aid the trial in sentencing people to death. Over the course of the play he experiences a huge transformation. As he listens to both sides of the trial, he realizes that the church and court standards may be wrong, and he begins to question these standards within himself. He stops supporting the court because he can no longer accept the false prosecutions that Danforth continues to make. His final decision in going against the church and following his heart shows the true side of his character. He goes through the rest of the play trying to save people?s lives. When someone asks why he has come back he states, ?Why, it is all simple. I come to do the devil?s work? (986). This shows he feels that doing what may seem wrong to others is actually the right thing to do. His efforts are in vain, however,
because in the end the Puritan Court overrules all other opinion.
Danforth is the judge of the witch trials and is very stubborn in his ways. His handling of

the trials is overbearing and intolerant. He is shocked when Francis Nurse dares to judge his authority and states, ?Peace, Judge Hawthorne, do you know who I am, Mr. Nurse?? (959). He thinks that he is superior to everyone else and he believes he has the best judgment of all. Because of his job he is feeling pressured to please the majority of the people.

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This does not allow room for him to think logically and make his own rational decisions. He presents his final decision by saying, ?I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement. Them that will not confess will hang? (985). He has mad a bad decision in choosing to stick to his judgment, refusing to be challenged by others. Danforth believes the law should be followed exactly and anyone who opposes is trying to undermine the church and the court?s authority. If he would allow anyone postponement, it would make him look bad, as he says it ?... speaks a floundering on my part...? (985). Such heartless and flawed decisions lead to the inevitable deaths of many people.
John Proctor is a bold and upright farmer in Salem. However, in the course of the play it is revealed that he has had an affair with Abigail, who is a young girl that is falsely accusing others of witchcraft. Having done this transgression, he feels he does not have the capacity to forgive himself. He knows that he must confess his sin in the trial in order to prove Abigail as a fraud and to save people?s lives. If he confesses his sin he will lose his good name in the town, which is the only thing that is keeping him from doing the right thing. John also has the choice of not telling the truth which would be beneficial to him but would lead to the deaths of innocent people. Though he knows the decision he should make, he is torn between concealing the truth or confessing his sin. Proctor?s final decision to tell the truth shows his good character. He willingly gives up his good name for the benefit of others. When the court comes for his confession, he does not sign it and he states his reasoning by saying, ?it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul, leave me
my name!? (993). He wants to live but escaping his death is not worth living out the rest of his life on a lie. This shows great integrity and goodness in his character. This final decision allows him to finally forgive himself and live his final moments in peace.
Each character played an important role in distinguishing the levels of human condition. The Crucible reveals both rational and traditionalist behavior through the actions of Reverend Hale, Judge Danforth, and John Proctor. John Proctor and Reverend Hale were able to make good decisions because of their high moral character. Danforth couldn?t make the morally correct decision because he refused to change his views and thought himself superior to others. Because of Danforth?s authoritarian position as a judge, his decision overrules any other opinion. Suspicion and fear twisted the people?s view of what is right and made it look wrong, which is why evil triumphed over good. Because of people?s personal weaknesses and superstitions, the truth can be overlooked and be replaced by flawed decisions.
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