The Crucible

Characters (in order of appearance)

Reverend Samuel Parris
Parris is the minister of Salem's church, disliked by many residents because of his greedy, domineering personality. He is more concerned about his reputation than the well-being of his sick daughter Betty. He is also more concerned about his missing niece, Abigail Williams, and the money taken by her, than for the lives of Williams' and the other girls' victims. Abigail and Betty were the first to accuse others of witchcraft, and he owned the slave, Tituba, the first to be accused of witchcraft.
Tituba is Reverend Parris's slave. Parris seems to have owned and purchased her in Barbados back in his time as a merchant. She cares for the children and prepares a potion for the girls to attract the men and boys they fancy, Abigail wants to kill Elizabeth Proctor for John Proctor and rarely Elizabeth Parris. Additionally, she attempts to raise the spirits of Ann Putnam's dead children at their behest. During the first scene of the play, she is turned in by Abigail and responds by claiming that four women in Salem are witches. She is not seen again until the final scene of the play taking place in the jail. By this point the events have troubled her to the point that she is haunted by hallucinations and hysteria. She and Sarah Good (whose infant child died in prison) are both mentally unsound by this point.
Abigail Williams
Williams is Parris' 17-year-old niece and the play's antagonist.[7] Abigail was previously the maid for the Proctor house, fired by Elizabeth after her discovery of Abigail's affair with her husband, John. Abigail and her uncle's slave, Tituba, lead the local girls in love-spell rituals in the Salem forest over a fire. Rumors of witchcraft fly, and Abigail tries to use the town's fear to her advantage. She accuses many of witchcraft, starting first with the society's outcasts and gradually moving up to respected members of the community. Finally, she accuses Elizabeth Proctor, believing that John truly loves her and not Elizabeth. Abigail wants Elizabeth out of the way so that she and John can marry. John says that Abigail "hopes to dance with me upon my wife's grave." She is manipulative and charismatic, attacking anyone who stands in her way. She flees Salem during the trials with Mercy Lewis.
Susanna Walcott
Susanna is a nervous and hasty girl, a little younger than Abigail and she participated with Abigail, Betty, Mercy and Mary in the ritual in the woods. She works for Dr. Griggs.
Ann Putnam
Ann Putnam is the wife of Thomas Putnam. She has one daughter, Ruth (also known as Ann Putnam, Jr.), but has "laid seven babies un-baptized in the earth." Ann is accusatory and harsh, most likely due to the trauma of the deaths of her children, although in real life, Ann Putnam (née Carr) successfully bore numerous children, 10 of whom survived their parents.
Thomas Putnam
Thomas Putnam lives in Salem and owns land close to Giles Corey. Giles accuses him of trying to steal it, and says that Putnam got his daughter to accuse Giles' wife of witchcraft. This possibility is strongly supported in the play. Putnam is one of the play's true villains because he uses the girls to advance his own agenda, i.e. treat his own resentments, jealousies and covetousness.
Elizabeth Parris
Elizabeth Parris also known as Betty is the ten-year-old daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris and is the first to become ill after being "bewitched".
Mercy Lewis
Servant to the Putnams and one of the girls caught in the woods with Abigail and Betty by Reverend Parris. She is described as being "a fat, sly, merciless girl of eighteen." She and the other girls browbeat Mary Warren into silence about what she saw in the woods in Act I. In Act III, she and the other girls claim to be under the influence of Warren's spirit, which causes them to see and feel various phenomena. She flees Salem with Abigail.
Mary Warren
Mary Warren serves as housemaid for the Proctors after Abigail Williams. She is a lonely girl who considers herself an "official of the court" at the beginning of the trials. John Proctor is shown to sometimes abuse her and hit her with a whip. She nearly confesses that she and the other girls were lying about witchcraft until the other girls pretend that she is sending out her spirit to them in the courtroom. This event, which could have led to her death, propels her to accuse John Proctor of witchcraft, claiming he forced her to lie about herself and the others.
John Proctor
John Proctor is a down-to-earth, forthright farmer and the play's protagonist.[8] He has a sexual relationship with Abigail Williams while she is a servant at his farm. Although he speaks his mind and stands up to Parris, he has no wish to be a martyr and he is careful about what he says when he senses real danger. He does show courage and boldness in his opposition to Parris and Putnam and he fiercely resists the arrest of his wife. Proctor is cautious when it comes to denouncing Abigail, particularly when his wife, claiming to be pregnant, is not in immediate danger. However, he feels he owes it to his accused friends to expose Abigail as a liar. He works hard to build a defense for those accused and manages to persuade Mary Warren to tell the truth, but this success is short-lived. As a last resort, he suffers the public shame of confessing to his adultery with Abigail to no avail. In prison, he eventually confesses so that he can live with and care for his family, but finally he decides to die rather than lose his good name and admit to witchcraft; he thus refuses to confess. He does this for the sake of his children's reputation and because Elizabeth and others have refused to confess. He will not deny himself. He has doubted his ability to be a good man so far, but with Elizabeth's example and support he realizes he can be true to himself and accept death.
Giles Corey
Giles is a friend of John Proctor who is very concerned about his own land, which he knows Thomas Putnam is trying to steal by getting the girls to accuse Giles' wife, Martha, of witchcraft. Giles gains this information from an anonymous source, whom he declines to name, as he knows that this person would be persecuted. He is subjected to being pressed by stones when he refuses to plea "aye or nay" to the charge of witchcraft. The character of Giles Corey is based on a real person. His wife was hanged due to the witchcraft accusations. It is unusual for persons to refuse to plead, and extremely rare to find reports of persons who have been able to endure this painful form of death in silence, as explained in the following quote from Elizabeth Proctor:

"He were not hanged. He would not answer yes or no to his indictment; for if he denied the charge they'd hang him surely, and auction out his property. So he stand mute, and died Christian under the law. And so his sons will have his farm. It is the law, for he could not be condemned a wizard without he answer the indictment, aye or nay."

Giles' reason for holding out so long is because as long as he did not answer yes or no, his children would inherit his estate.
Rebecca Nurse
Rebecca Nurse, wife of Francis Nurse, is a pillar of the community and highly respected in Salem. Very firm in her opinions, and willing to make any sacrifice in the cause of truth, she voices her opposition to the idea of witchcraft. Near the end, she is accused of being a witch on the prompting of the Putnams, jealous of Nurse, who successfully bore many healthy children.
Reverend John Hale
Hale is a well-respected minister reputed to be an expert on witchcraft. Reverend Hale is called in to Salem to examine the witchcraft trials and Parris's daughter Betty, who has fallen into a mysterious illness after being discovered participating in the suspect rituals. He originally believes there are witches in Salem and advocates the trials, but later realizes the widespread corruption and abuse of the trials, and struggles to convince the women accused of being "witches" to live by confessing to a lie rather than dying for telling the truth.
Elizabeth Proctor
John Proctor's wife. She is accused of witchcraft, and is only saved from death because she is pregnant during the hysteria. Abigail hates her for being Proctor's wife, and for keeping Proctor's heart. By the end of the play Elizabeth acknowledges that her own coldness towards her husband led to the fateful affair. By the end Elizabeth allows her husband to die the honorable death he sought, saying she would not take away his goodness.
Ezekiel Cheever
Astute but morally weak, his most important appearance is in the Proctor household where he denounces Elizabeth Proctor for witchcraft, regarding the poppet (doll) which was placed in the Proctor house to make it appear that Elizabeth was practicing witchcraft against Abigail Williams. He used to be friends with John Proctor, but when the accusations started, he quickly turned against former friends and others accused of witchcraft. He tells Danforth that Proctor sometimes plows on Sundays and had missed church often. He acts as a scribe in Act 2, and in some interpretations of the play, he is shown as Proctor's hangman.
George Herrick/John Willard
Herrick was the Marshal of Salem and in the play is responsible for bringing the defendants before the court. He is a sympathetic character, advising Deputy Governor Danforth of Proctor's good character and becoming friendly with the accused witches whom he guards. Some productions name the character John Willard, a reference to constable John Willard who came to disbelieve the allegations and refused to make any further arrests. He himself was then arrested, charged with witchcraft and hanged.
Judge John Hathorne
The presiding judge over the Salem Witch Trials. Cold, ignorant, antagonistic, he constantly denies any new developments regarding the events in Salem Village. Hathorne could also be considered the "hanging judge" of the era. His only real moment of emotion in the play occurs in the final scene, where he appears almost joyful that Proctor considers falsely confessing to witchcraft. In real life, his descendants, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, amended their surname.
Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth
Danforth is pretentious, officious and selfish, a judge whose primary loyalty is to himself and to his position. Seen by Miller himself as being the 'true' villain of the piece, he described him as thus in a New York Times article: "... [t]he rule-bearer, the man who always guards the boundaries which, if you insist on breaking through them, have the power to destroy you. His 'evil' is more than personal, it is nearly mythical. He does more evil than he knows how to do; while merely following his nose he guards ignorance, he is man's limit."
In real life, Danforth was a magistrate and leading figure in the colony at the time of the Salem witch trials, but did not sit on the Court of Oyer and Terminer. In fact he is recorded as being critical of the conduct of the trials, and played a role in bringing them to an end.

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