Characters are an integral part of a play. Writers use these characters to develop a story and convey the central idea. The writer makes his text appealing with the help of characters, as characters provide a skeleton for the story. Similarly, characters in The Crucible represent Miller’s idea of immorality, injustice, and inequality. Some of the major characters of the play have been discussed below.
Characters in The Crucible
He is the major character around whom the story revolves. He is Elizabeth’s husband and Abigail’s former lover. The story presents the journey of his inner guilt of becoming a man of morals. He remains discontent throughout the play because of the act of adultery he had committed in the past. He is concerned about his good reputation and lives in fear of losing it. Hence, he does not disclose the secret of Abigail and the girls at the beginning of the witchcraft hysteria. Although he tries hard to fight with his fear, he fails and finally confesses this in the court. His confession during the witchcraft trial is the confession of his infidelity.
She is the second major character and an antagonist in the play. Abigail Williams is seventeen and promiscuous and desire for revenge. She weaves the whole plot to gain John Proctor back while he wants to get rid of her. This instigates her to exact revenge on him. She also is responsible for gathering the girls with Tituba in the forest but denies it. She hates Elizabeth, the wife of Proctor, thinking Proctor is avoiding her because of his wife. She plans to make Salem pay for it, casts a spell on Elizabeth and does not care about the sacrifices of the innocent people. However, when her plan fails, she runs away from Salem, leaving Proctor and a lot of innocent people face the trial and also lose their lives.
He is a well-reputed minister and witch expert who comes to Salem to identify witchcraft. He devotes himself to his work and intends to investigate Abigail’s accusations. He first believes that witchcraft or a satanic plot is not a myth, but a reality in Salem. However, after meeting with Proctor and his wife, he expresses doubts about Abigail’s accusation. When he realizes that Abigail is a liar, he decides to save others from execution. He stands up against the court’s decision because he is concerned about truth and justice. Unlike, Proctor he also suffers due to his false judgments, yet he fights to save the innocents.
He is the Deputy Governor of Massachusetts who comes to Salem to investigate the cases of witchcraft. He is intelligent and open-minded. He is confident, as he thinks that he can differentiate between truth and lies. He believes in the supremacy of Church and believes that obeying church is like obeying God, and that going against it is disobeying God. He assumes that Abigail Williams and girls are not lying. If anyone tries to go against his decisions, he resents it. He considers his decision-making ability perfect and does not tolerate any objection. Through this character, Miller projects the dominating nature of human beings and also the dominance of ancient church.
She is John Proctor’s wife and appears as an arrogant, rude and cold in the beginning but becomes wiser and better by the end. She is portrayed as a moral lady in the play. When she discovers her husband’s illegal relations with Abigail, she stops caring but remains faithful to him. In fact, she asks Proctor to put a stop to witch trial and discloses the reality of Abigail. Not only does she stop him from handing over the false confession to the court but also forgives him.
A secondary character, Rebecca is Francis Nurse’s wife. She is a highly respected figure in Salem until she is accused of witchcraft. Miller portrays this character with dignity, honor, and respect. She is presented as a good-hearted woman with strong moral values. Mrs. Putnam, her neighbor, is at bad terms with her, who accuses her of witchcraft. Ironically, the society that praises her for her morality at once turns against her. Even after this blame, no one finds any clue against her, and the minister, Hale, states that Satan was also praised by God. She stays a strong character throughout the play.
Another secondary character, the Reverend Parris is the Minister of Salem, Betty’s father and Abigail Williams’ uncle. He is a strict father and a minister. However, his harsh and unbearable judgments sometimes put his position at stake. He is insecure and obsessed with his reputation, unlike Proctor. The fear of being hurt and captured looms over him all the time. He believes that someone is plotting against his position. Though he represents power, he is also the personification of a megalomaniac.
Mrs. Ann Putnam
The wife of Thomas Putnam, Mrs. Ann plays a major role in making an innocent guilty in the play. She loses her seven children and believes in the existence of supernatural elements. She has soured relations with Rebecca Nurse, leading her to accuse Rebecca of witchcraft and jeopardize her esteemed life. It is ironic that her guilt and doubt has brought disaster on an innocent character. Through this character, Miller presents the ugly side of human nature.
A very cunning and greedy man, Thomas Putnam deceives others to grab their lands. He is an influential figure in Salem. He wants to make his brother-in-law the office minister of Salem but could not succeed because of his neighbor, Francis Nurse. Since then he holds a grudge against him. Along with his wife, he deliberately blames his neighbors of witchcraft to grab their lands and satisfy his spiteful nature, representing deception.
One of the most important secondary characters, Tituba plays an important role to fan the disease of hysteria in Salem. She is the slave of Reverend Parris and the member of the group who goes to the forest to call the spirits along with Abigail. She appears only a few times in the play but plays a critical role to make the theme of witchcraft prominent.