In The Crucible, which three characters are responsible for the trials and why?

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One could argue that Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris, and Deputy Governor Danforth are the primary characters responsible for Salem's corrupt witch trials. Reverend Parris is responsible for entertaining the idea of witchcraft after his daughter Betty falls ill with a mysterious sickness. Reverend Parris also sends for Reverend Hale from Beverly to begin investigating the presence of witchcraft throughout the community. After Abigail becomes the outspoken leader of the group of girls, Reverend Parris defends the court against concerned citizens like Giles Corey, Francis Nurse, and John Proctor.

Given the fact that Abigail Williams is the leading voice of the proceedings and falsely accuses numerous citizens of witchcraft, she is primarily responsible for the witch trials. Abigail Williams initially began accusing innocent citizens in order to avoid being punished for dancing in the woods. After Abigail gains fame and notoriety, she falsely accuses Elizabeth Proctor of attempted murder in order to have John all to herself. Abigail also accuses Mary Warren and John Proctor of colluding with the devil in act three when they attempt to challenge her authority.

Deputy Governor Danforth presides over the witch trials and refuses to acknowledge that his court is corrupt. Danforth dismisses Giles Corey, Francis Nurse, and John Proctor's evidence against the court and remains resolute in his decision to execute accused citizens who have not confessed. Danforth supports Abigail Williams and the other girls and allows the proceedings to continue. Danforth has the authority to end the proceedings but remains intolerant and is determined to execute anyone challenging him.

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Mrs. Putnam, Mr. Thomas Putnam, and Parris bear the greatest responsibility for the Salem witch trials. The girls, on the other hand, are used to settle scores between members of the Salem community. Mrs. Putnam was among members of the community responsible for the spread of rumors about witchcraft. She also urges Parris to seek external assistance in dealing with the issue.

Thomas Putnam takes the opportunity to suggest that Parris will be implicated if he fails to take charge of the situation. Parris, on the other hand, invites Reverend Hale to conduct investigations in preparation for the witch trials. Parris agrees to the suggestions made by Mrs. Putnam and Thomas Putnam because he witnessed the girls dancing in the forest and fears that he will be directly implicated because both Betty and Abigail participated.

Parris: Thomas, Thomas, I pray you, leap not to witchcraft. I know that you-you least of all, Thomas, would ever wish so disastrous a charge lay upon me. We cannot leap to witchcraft. They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my house.

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Reverend Hale and Abigail Williams are the two characters most responsible for the trials in Salem. Reverend Parris also bears some burden of responsibility. 

Abigail initiates the action of the play through her lies designed to deflect attention from her transgressions in the woods. Accusing others of witchcraft, she begins a process of hysteria and accusation that results in the trying of many Salem residents. 

Reverend Hale lends his authority to Abigail's claims. Flushed with praise and in a resulting state of fervor, Hale applies his authority in support of the trials. Without Hale, the accusations may never have gained enough credence to necessitate the legal action.

For reasons similar to Abigail's, Reverend Parris is also responsible for the trials. He brings in Hale in an effort to remove the stain of blame from his family resulting from the girls' actions in the woods. Parris is worried that he will lose his position in Salem if Betty is seen as having practiced witchcraft. For this reason he puts all of his influence behind the trials. 

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Which three people are responsible for the witch trials in The Crucible?

I think the whole town, with the exception of a few (Giles Corey, Elizabeth Proctor and the wrongly accused), are all culpable because the lot of them conformed to the hysteria of the witch hunt. But if I had to pick three of the most responsible, I would start with Reverend Parris. He cares more about his own status than he does about the town’s welfare, the truth or the moral implications of his own actions. I’m reluctant to choose Abigail. She does instigate the entire string of lies which lead to the witch hunt. But her parents are dead and the only person who shows her affection is John Proctor; and this is doomed from the start. Abigail is one of those most responsible for the witch trials, but I personally hold more contempt for Parris and Deputy Governor Danforth. He is more concerned with the dignity and reputation of the court than he is about obtaining justice. His actions do not directly lead to the witch trials, but he has the ability to stop them and does not.

You have to blame those who started the witch scare but also those officials who perpetuated it and exponentially increased the hysteria.

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