List and explain the different types of conflicts encountered by each character in "The Crucible".

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Crucible," there are both internal and external conflicts experienced by the protagonist, John Proctor, the antoganist, Abigail Williams and many of the supporting characters.

John Proctor, as the main character, struggles within himself to resist the temptation, he once surrendered to, of resuming his affair with Abigail Williams.  Although it would be easy to do, since Abigail is very much in love with him, he decides to try to make his marriage work.  Externally, he must also physically avoid Abigail, who at every turn wants to be close to him.

Elizabeth Proctor does not trust her husband.  If he returns home even a few minutes late, she suspects that he has been seeing Abigail.  When he refuses to provide information early in the court proceedings regarding the charges of witchcraft, Elizabeth demands to know why.  When Proctor tells her he was alone with Abigail, she immediately thinks that the affair is on again.  So he has an external conflict with both his wife and Abigail.

John Proctor also is determined to stay out of the whole witchcraft trial process.  He keeps himself at a distance from it until his wife is arrested.  He is in direct conflict with both the church that accuses people of witchcraft and the court which he does not trust.

Abigail Williams has many internal conflicts, the most intense is her love of a married man, John Proctor.  She has a deep distrust of society, having watched her parents murdered in front of her, she is scared by that experience.  Abigail has a conflict with the behavioral guidelines of the Puritan faith, which she violates and longs to continue to violate by having an adulterous relationship with Proctor.

Abigail also has a series of conflicts with the girls in the play who were present in the woods during the night of dancing and conjuring.  She threatens them to obey her and follow her lead.  She insists that they reshape the truth according to her instructions.  Her most serious external conflict is with Elizabeth Proctor, whom she wants dead.

The Putnams also have conflicts with their neighbors and within themselves.  Anne Putnam struggles with her internal conflict and pain over the loss of her seven infants shortly after birth.  She uses the witchcraft hysteria to excise her pain and place the blame for the deaths of her babies on Rebecca Nurse.

Thomas Putnam's conflict is with his neighbors who own land adjacent to his own.  He longs to purchase it so he uses his daughter Ruth and has her accuse Mr. Jacobs of witchcraft so that his land will be put up for sale at a discounted price.

The entire town is in conflict with their religious beliefs, that which demands them to care for and love their nieghbor.  During the witchcraft hysteria, the town is in a state of mass hypnosis where everyone thinks they see witches, instead of their neighbors.  The literal spell of witchcraft hysteria is broken when Abigail the chief accuser runs away when she realizes that her plan to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor has resulted in John Proctor's death instead.