How does Herrick's characterization connect to what is happening in Salem?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Herrick is a fairly interesting character.  On one hand, he is shown to be not as malevolent as Parris, Danforth, or Abigail.  He lacks the venom of the Putnams and he does not feature the intense and sharp edged sword that accusations have come to represent in Salem.  Yet, he is still part of the machinery that has sent innocent people to death.  He is shown to be a decent man.  When he speaks to Tituba and Sarah Good, he does not degrade them, but rather deals with them in a professional and distant manner.  We see the same characterization when he has to come to apprehend Elizabeth.  He seems uncomfortable with what he is compelled to do, but that does not prevent him from doing so.  When he says to John that he "cannot budge" from what "the law" demands of him, it is a moment where his own sense of humanity is brought out.  Herrick's characterization in this light represents the majority of Salem who are forced to do go along, do what is being asked of them, and do so without questioning.  Herrick is the perfect example of those who "follow orders."  He is not responsible for anything that happens in Salem and is an extension of this machine.  He doesn't even seem to take a delight in being a part of it, unlike Cheever.  Yet, he goes along with it. His lack of opposition to it helps to continue it, which ends up becoming one of Miller's main points.  While Herrick would not endure the level of blame of an Abigail or Danforth or Parris, Miller constructs his character where he is a part of the corrupt establishment in his adherence to rules and orders that are corrupt.

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