The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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In The Crucible, what three characters are responsible for the trials and why?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One could argue that Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris, and Deputy Governor Danforth are the primary characters responsible for Salem's corrupt witch trials. Reverend Parris is responsible for entertaining the idea of witchcraft after his daughter Betty falls ill with a mysterious sickness. Reverend Parris also sends for Reverend Hale from Beverly to begin investigating the presence of witchcraft throughout the community. After Abigail becomes the outspoken leader of the group of girls, Reverend Parris defends the court against concerned citizens like Giles Corey, Francis Nurse, and John Proctor.

Given the fact that Abigail Williams is the leading voice of the proceedings and falsely accuses numerous citizens of witchcraft, she is primarily responsible for the witch trials. Abigail Williams initially began accusing innocent citizens in order to avoid being punished for dancing in the woods. After Abigail gains fame and notoriety, she falsely accuses Elizabeth Proctor of attempted murder...

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clouis13 | Student

Hale is undergoing an internal crisis. He clearly enjoyed being called to Salem because it made him feel like an expert. His pleasure in the trials comes from his privileged position of authority with respect to defining the guilty and the innocent. However, his surprise at hearing of Rebecca’s arrest and the warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest reveals that Hale is no longer in control of the situation. Power has passed into the hands of others who start to abuse it, as the craze spreads; Hale begins to doubt its essential justice.

Proctor’s sense of guilt begins to eat away at him. He knows that he can bring down Abigail and end her reign of terror with the information he has on her, but he fears for his good name if his hidden sin of adultery is revealed and doesn’t want people look at him like he looks at them. Proctor’s intense dilemma over whether to expose his own sin to bring down Abigail, thing get for him get worse when Hale’s decision to visit everyone whose name is even remotely associated with the involvement  of witchcraft.