Who is to blame for the tragic events in The Crucible?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The blame for the events of the story has to be assigned to more than a single individual. Abigail Williams and her friends certainly deserve a portion of the blame. Judge Danforth, Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale also share responsibility for the numerous deaths resulting from the witchtrials. 

The trouble in Salem begins when Abigail convinces her friends (and Tituba) to divert attention from their own midnight actions in the woods. To do this, accusations of witchcraft are made against others.

These accusations are fabricated for the most part - simply made up. The responsibility for the lies rests with Abigail and her cohort. However, it is at this point in the story that the responsibility shifts to the adults in the Salem community.

Instead of actually assessing the claims made by frightened girls (who happen to be facing quite a serious punishment for witchcraft of their own), Hale and Parris decide the stories are true. Believing the girls' lies without skepticism is the fault of these adults and community leaders.   

Furthermore, it is the official court that hands down the verdicts and sentences citizens to death. This court, represented in large part by Danforth, is responsible for the tragedy of wrongful death meted out in punishment for crimes that were never committed. 

Seen in this way, we can say that the girls' accusations tip the first proverbial dominoes leading to tragedy, but they are far from alone in the final blame. 

...the community's reaction to these accusations, he shows how easily stories can be taken out of context—and how people are blamed for crimes they haven't committed.