Of all the characters in the Crucible, John Proctor is perhaps the most admirable. He has strong personal principles and the courage to stand by them. Proctor strives to do what is right. He tries very hard to please Elizabeth because his affair with Abigail Williams has left him with a guilty conscience. In Act 2, he compliments Elizabeth’s rabbit stew, even though much of it is his own work. ” It’s well seasoned, ” he says. He labors constantly, for her well being, believing that this will make their relationship successful.
Proctors first appearance, in Act 1, is his arrival from chopping wood in the forest.
During much of Act 1 he is working. For example, he returns from a hunting trip and from planting seeds in his garden, on a cold winters day. Proctor believes in discipline and can be very strict if he needs to. As is illustrated in Act 2. Mary Warren disobeys him and goes to the Salem trials as an official.
On her return, he scolds her shouting, “ I’ll official you… I’ll whip the devil out of you! ” He is against the trials, perhaps because he was never a strong Christian.
In Act 2 he is told to recite the Ten Commandments. He starts, “ Thou shalt not steal…covet thy neighbours goods… make unto thee any graven image… bear false witness… make unto thee any graven image. ” finally stuttering and failing. We get an insight to his values in Act 2, when he shows his disapproval of the Salem Witch trials, saying: “ It’s a strange work… to hang old women”. This is further illustrated, later in the same act, when his wife, Elizabeth, learns that she is accused of witchcraft. Proctor, deeply shocked, becomes very protective towards her.
He says that they shall resist the charges and that “ There will be no noose…fear nothing”. Johns courage to stick by his beliefs is illustrated at the end of Act 2, when he stands up to court officials in a struggle to oppose the charges against his wife. He tears up the arrest warrant, throws out the officials and rages “ Damn the Deputy Governor! Out of my house! ” At the end of the play, in Act 4, John faces the ultimate test of his courage and moral values when he is faced with signing the document, where to lie would save his life. Proctor cannot sign the lie and exclaims: “ Because it is my name! … Because I lie and sign myself to lies! ”
Abigail Williams is undoubtedly the most despicable character in the play. Her young and innocent appearance conceals a sly, selfish and callous girl. Abigail had once been John Proctor’s lover, but was then rejected. She cannot bear the fact that John no longer loves her the way that she believes he used to, and that he wants to pretend that nothing ever happened. In Act 1, John says to her: “ Wipe it out of mind. We never touched. ” Abigail is a deceitful person who does not care about the outcome of her actions. Her envy leads her to make false accusations against Elizabeth Proctor.
She is a skillful liar. This is illustrated in Act 3 when Abigail, after purposely wounding herself, argues, in court, against Elizabeth saying: “ I have been hurt Mr Danforth… I done my duty pointing out the devil’s people – and this is my reward? To be mistrusted, denied, questioned…? Abigail has a bad name in the village because she is often seen doing mysterious things, such as conjuring spirits and more generally because of her malevolent character. This is illustrated in Act 1 where Betty exclaims, “ you did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctors wife!
” Abigail then smashes Betty across the face and shouts “ shut it, shut it! ” As the thoughts and ideas of witchcraft and devil worship spread through Salem, Abigail finds an easy way to get rid of her enemies without degrading her name any further. By accusing them, or convincing others to accuse, Abby is able to place many innocent people on trial for witchcraft. An example of this occurs at the end of Act 3, when Abigail, having convinced an assembly of girls to help her accuse Mary Warren, manipulates the situation. The assembly slowly descends into a screaming crisis, which makes Mary sound like a mad woman.
Abigail uses this technique many times in the play. On this occasion, Mary Warren blames Proctor to save her life. The underlying evil of mindless persecution pervades this play. There are many characters to admire and despise. Abigail Williams deserves some sympathy, as she was callously cast aside by Proctor. Nevertheless, her decent into evil, surpasses them all Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Miller section.