Why is the themes of guilt and innocence important in 'The Crucible'?
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Miller identifies the witch hunt as an opportunity for the repressed members of Salem society to publicly proclaim both their own sins and the sins of others. Guilt has been bottled up at home in this community, and the airing of sins and grievances is a relief to those previously without an outlet for confession. Guilt motivates not only the witch hunts themselves, but also the behavior of several principal characters. Proctor is haunted by remorse over his infidelity, while Reverend Hale works to undermine the court that he helped create as penance for his sins. The ultimate irony of the Salem witch hunts is not only that the sins of the trials quickly outpaced the original crime, but that there was no original crime to begin with. Indeed, the abstract concept of sin was made concrete through compounding avoidances of guilt.