I know this question is very General. But I'm just very stuck on how can I exactly identify a character displaying a downside to human nature.
We might also look at Reverend Hale in the context of "the downside to human nature". Hale allows his vanity to get the best of him, compromising his judgment. When he realizes his mistake, his is incapable of publically admitting to it in any way that could be considered potent. He is simply too afraid to take a risk. This meekness is particularly horrifying when it follows Hale's earlier willingness to judge, to condemn, and to sentence.
Reverend Parris is another character who displays some of the worst characteristics of human nature. He is selfish and cowardly, worrying only about how any of this is going to impact him and his church. He is a man of God, yet he lies about seeing the girls in the forest. He is complicit in the lies the girls tell in the courtroom, for he knows getting rid of certain people in Salem will ultimately benefit him. He does seem to have a slight change of heart at the end of the play; however, it is all still about him.
All of the characters in this play display some amount of the negative side of human beings. To pick just one, let's look at Abigail.
Abigail shows the way that people are greedy for power and to possess others. She wants John Proctor and she is willing to go to great lengths to get him back. She is also, later on, greedy for power. She is willing to lie about (and keep lying about) others so that she can be an important and powerful person in the community.
I think that we all feel desires similar to hers and so I think she embodies a negative side of human nature.
great answer! thank you.
Thank you very much for your answer :)