What part does religion play in the characterizations in The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that religion is depicted as a force that individuals can manipulate in order to advance their own agendas.  It is shown to be the source of the greatest of human character and simultaneously, the source of some of the worst elements in human character.  Reverend Parris might be one example of this.  Being a supposedly religious figure, he is concerned only with his status and seems more driven by what the impacts of the accusations would be in terms of his standing than anything else.  His use of religion is only to further his own perception in the eyes of others.  Abigail, his niece, is one who uses religion to feed her own ends.  She understands that the severely religious fears of witchcraft can be something she can use in order to advance her own desire of control and want.  Reverend Hale is not a terrible individual, but he is depicted as one who stops short of doing the right thing because of his own zeal, caused by religious fervor. These individuals are cast against the characters of Proctor and Rebecca Nurse, who might not be members of the religious establishment, but are ones who act with more of an embrace of spirituality and sacrifice than those who are supposedly the "religious leaders" of Salem.