The Crucible Essay

Who evokes the most sympathy in the play? Arthur Miller’s famous 1952 court room drama ‘The Crucible’, based on the 1692 Salem Tragedy, explores the hysteria, strong theocracy and the importance of reputation in the town Salem. Many characters in ‘The Crucible’ generate empathy, but many do not. Sympathy does form for Abigail Williams the most, despite the fact she is seen as the play’s “evil villain”. Other characters however, also evoke condolence and concern like the honourable hero of the play, John Proctor and Giles Corey.

The poor Giles Corey unintentionally condemned his wife Martha to be hanged for witchcraft, by accidently asking about behaviour she practiced he found odd. Not only would being separated by your loved one be emotional and difficult, being the reason for it would be even more devastating. Thomas Putnam was rumoured to want to take Corey’s land. Corey heard from an unknown source that Putnam was attempting to get his wife Ruth to get people convicted for their own personal gain. Corey said this in court, but then knew that if he told the court who told him, they would get in trouble too but, if Corey refused, he would also be condemned.

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Feeling guilty for the damage he had already done, the admirable Giles Corey let himself by killed by heavy rocks, rather than put someone else’s life in danger. A side motif that may have provoked this is the fact that if Corey were to say nothing, his children would be able to inherit the land, leaving it untouchable to Thomas Putnam. This shows how far the hysteria was going, as it was the cause of Martha Corey and later on of Giles. John Proctor is seen as the typical hero of the play, holding on fatal flaw: the affair with Abigail Williams. Proctor however felt great guilt about the act, and did admit to his wife Elizabeth what happened.

Together they decided to work through it together, and do their best to forget about the situation. John did display true commitment to Elizabeth after he committed the affair, but still had it heavy on his conscience. He tried to steer clear of Abigail, in fact he said he’d “cut off my hands” before he turned to her again. Abigail reveals to him the forbidden dancing in the forest was just “sport” and not to conjure spirits, and Proctor tries to tell the court and knows she’s a “whore” but in doing so he had to come clean about the affair. This showed he’d rather tell the truth than be a liar, and to do what is right.

Confessing to his family and friends would have been extremely difficult, and an admirable act. Towards the end of the ‘The Crucible’, Proctor is faced with the decision to either say he is guilty of witchcraft (which he isn’t) to stay alive, or to be honest and proclaim he was innocent, but then be hanged. Proctor was about to sign his name, until he was notified it would be displayed on the church for his children too see, and he didn’t want to let them down. However, John also didn’t want to sign away his good name, his reputation in the community. I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” he said. This shows the importance of reputation in the town of Salem and the impact it really did make. John Proctor told the truth, and got hanged for it, leaving behind two children, and one on the way, his wife and his community, all for the truth and for the benefits of his children. Abigail Williams, a seventeen year old girl is more often than not thought of as the crook of the ‘The Crucible’. Her acts were an act of jealousy that went too far. Abigail resented Elizabeth Proctor, as she was with John Proctor but Abbey was not.

Abigail had a strong love for Proctor, but in the end it wasn’t mutual. When John chose his wife over Abigail, Abigail took advantage of the thoughts of witchcraft in the community to condemn Goody Proctor. She manipulated other members of the community in Salem, causing more and more people being thought to be practising witchcraft, causing many innocent deaths. Abigail used the towns fear as her advantage, but was caught in the hysteria herself, it was like a drug to her. Abigail Williams however was an orphan. She sore “Indians smash” her parents on the pillow next to hers.

This probably added to her strong personality and strong views. She fell in love with John, but he didn’t love her back. Abigail just wanted someone to love her, she was lonely, she was broken. She tried to kill Elizabeth to have John to herself, but in the end it was John who was hanged, and it was her fault. She had to live with the fact she killed her lover, and so many innocent people. Seeing your parents murdered would be incredibly traumatic, disturbing and overwhelming. All this together would have made her actions reflect jealousy and abandonment. It’s hard not to feel sorry for her.

Although Giles Corey and John Proctor didn’t cause the devastation that Abigail William produced, Abigail evokes the most sympathy, as having such a rough childhood and then loosing the one person you love would be tough. Acting the way she did caused so many traumas, but for someone to commit such acts must show she was really emotionally unstable. Giles Corey died to save a friend, and John Proctor died to save his name, and the respect of his family. All three characters do promote pity, consideration and compassion, the strong sympathy for the troubled Abigail Williams is the most evident, even though not the most assumed.


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