The Crucible Characters
by Arthur Miller

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The Crucible Characters

The main characters in The Crucible are John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris, and Tituba. 

  • John Proctor is an innocent man accused of witchcraft by his former lover, Abigail.
  • Elizabeth Proctor is John's wife, who is convicted of witchcraft but spared by the court when it's found that she is pregnant.
  • Abigail Williams is Reverend Parris's niece, who accuses John and Elizabeth of witchcraft as revenge for being fired.
  • Reverend Parris is who finds the group of girls dancing naked in the forest.
  • Tituba is a slave found dancing with the girls.

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John Proctor

John Proctor, a farmer, is the protagonist of the story. He is a well-respected man in Salem, but it is revealed that he had an illicit affair with the adolescent Abigail Williams prior to the events of the play. This mistake comes back to haunt him when his wife, Elizabeth, is named a witch by Abigail and the girls who follow her. John is aware—from conversations with both Abigail and his servant, Mary Warren—that the girls have fabricated their accusations. Though he despises the trials, he is initially reluctant to challenge the girls for fear that his indiscretion with Abigail will be exposed, costing him his good name. 

After Elizabeth is arrested, however, John confronts the court with evidence, including depositions and a signed petition vouching for the characters of Elizabeth, Rebecca Nurse, and Martha Corey. His actions are viewed as attempts to undermine the court, and his own integrity and Christian faith are questioned. Eventually, John, too, is imprisoned and accused as a witch. John initially decides to falsely confess to witchcraft in an attempt to spare his life, but in the end, he refuses to lie and chooses to be executed rather than sacrifice his good name. One of the central conflicts of the play concerns John's internal struggles in the wake of his immoral affair. Ultimately, he redeems his good name and his soul by refusing to surrender his integrity.

Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams is the young woman with whom John Proctor had an affair while she was a servant in his household. Abigail becomes very attached to John and hopes he will start a genuine relationship with her, despite the fact that he already has a wife. It is suggested by Betty that this is Abigail’s motivation when she takes part in Tituba's ritual at the start of the play, where she allegedly drinks blood as part of a charm to kill Elizabeth Proctor. When the girls are discovered, they, led by Abigail, deflect their own guilt onto others in the town, accusing them of being witches. Throughout the play, Abigail is shown to be cunning and manipulative. She exerts great power over the other girls, and at times, she appears to be genuinely convinced by the hysteria she has created—and therefore must know to be false.

Elizabeth Proctor

Elizabeth Proctor is John Proctor's wife. She knows of John's affair with Abigail and is trying to forgive her husband, though she clearly struggles to trust him. Elizabeth is seen as a model citizen, but her reputation does not protect her from accusations of witchcraft, and she is eventually jailed. Shortly after being imprisoned, Elizabeth announces that she is pregnant, and her trial (and potential execution) is temporarily stayed. Elizabeth possesses a strong sense of honor and morality. Though she wants John to live, she ultimately respects his decision to die rather than lie and be freed.

Mary Warren

Mary Warren is one of Abigail's friends and a servant in the Proctor home. A poppet belonging to her is found in Elizabeth Proctor's possession. This results in Elizabeth's arrest for witchcraft. Although she is weak and easily influenced by Abigail, Mary eventually tries to put things right by telling the court that the girls made up their accusations of witchcraft. When the girls turn on her, however, Mary is too afraid to stand by the truth, and she rejoins the girls, helping them accuse John Proctor.

Reverend Parris

(The entire section is 1,602 words.)