October 26, 2006
The Crucible Unit 3 Test (Choice 1)
Careful study of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible reveals that there are three people most to blame for the witch hysteria and the subsequent death of innocent people. They are Abigail Williams, Mary Warren, and Judge Danforth. Each of these people, in some way, caused harm to blameless people, and this essay will explain what these people, knowingly or unknowingly did to contribute to the death of the innocent people hanged as witches in Salem Village in 1692.
Abigail Williams was most responsible for the Salem witch hysteria. She accuses Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft because she wanted to take Elizabeth’s spot in John Proctor’s life. In addition, when Mary testified that she and the other girls were pretending to be involved with witchcraft Abigail denies Mary’s testimony. Then she claims that Mary bewitched her and the other girls. Evidence that Abigail wanted John Proctor and is angry at his wife is found in Act One when Abigail says, “I know you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near! Or did I dream that? It’s she put me out, you cannot pretend it were you. I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me than and you do now!” (Miller 21). Clearly, Abigail Williams was a person very responsible for the terrible events that happened in Salem in 1692.
Mary Warren was also responsible for the tragedy. She made Elizabeth Proctor a doll and stuck a needle in it which ended up getting Elizabeth arrested. The judges thought she was using the doll to hurt Abigail, but it was all set up by Abigail to get Elizabeth in trouble. Mary’s “gift” was really a trap. The following is what Mary told Elizabeth when giving the doll to her, “I made a gift for you today, Goody Proctor. I had to sit long hours in a chair, and passed the time with sewing” (Miller 53). Later, John Proctor gets the truth out of Mary, and she agrees to testify on behalf of Elizabeth, but Abigail denies it. Abigail and the other girls start screaming that Mary is sending them her spirit. She starts screaming too, and John Proctor tries to touch her but she runs away, calling him the devil’s man. She then accuses him of consorting with the devil and pressuring her into joining him in his evil ways. Certainly, Mary Warren was guilty of adding to the spread of terror.
Lastly, Judge Danforth is responsible for the hanging of innocent people as witches. Judge Danforth asked John Proctor to drop his condemnation of the court. Instead, John Proctor submits a deposition signed by ninety-one land owning farmers about the good characters of Elizabeth Proctor. John Proctor is told that everyone who signed will be questioned because a deposition is an attack on the court. The following is what Judge Danforth said to John Proctor when he heard of the depositions, “No, no, I accept no depositions. Tell me Mr. Proctor, have you given out this story in the village?” (Miller 82). Judge Danforth only wanted to believe that everyone accused was guilty; he never wanted to believe any thing different. The following is what Judge Danforth told Reverend John Hale in a conversation:
Now hear me, and beguile yourselves no more. I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement. Them that will not confess will hang. Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven people are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning. Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering. If retaliation is your fear, know this-I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statues. Now draw yourselves up like men and help me, as you are bound by Heaven to do. Have you spoken with them all, Mr. Hale? (Miller 119-120).
It is clear that Judge Danforth caused many deaths.
In conclusion, there are three people who are most to blame for the hanging of innocent people during the Salem Witch trials of 1692. These three people were Abigail Williams, Mary Warren, and Judge Danforth. Each of these three knowingly or unknowingly caused the witch hysteria to grow and contributed to the hanging deaths of the men and women during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin, 1995.