Guilt and remorse are two prevalent forces that haunt the characters in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. People throughout that play change significantly as a result of the deaths of many key figures. Remorse comes about within the hearts of many characters in the play and has a drastic impact on the entire Salem community. Many characters feel guilt and remorse. Reverend John Hale, Abigail Williams, and Reverend Parris felt this guilty conscience, this remorse about what they had all done.
Reverend Hale comes into the picture toward the beginning of the play. At first, it seems that he is a very straight-laced man, plays by the book, and has the authority to command order and justice. We find him involved in the search to find a cure for Betty Parris and Putnam’s children’s ailments.
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He seems very promising and assuring that he will do the right thing and as a reader, one would have little doubt that he will be the savior in the play. Throughout the play, he is in search of the devil and believes that he will, indeed, find Satan and rid the world of him.
John Hale’s personality changes drastically toward the finale of the play. He has changed from a very overconfident minister in the beginning of the play to a doubtful minister at the end of the play. He is doubtful of not only John Proctor’s guilt but of the justice of the court and more specifically Judge Danforth. Hale sees that John Proctor is an innocent man but is basically powerless against Judge Danforth and his crooked court.
He tries many times to get John Proctor released, however, John will not submit to the crooked terms that the court has to offer, and is willing to stand up to the court even if it means his life. All Hale can do is watch as the innocent John Proctor slowly meets his demise.
Reverend John Hale is changed significantly by this act and is remorseful about his beliefs that the devil was actually alive in Salem. At the beginning of the play Hale would have been obliged to see John Proctor hang just so long as he had to do with the devil, however, at the end of the story, Hale says Life, woman, if God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess.
Let him give his lie.? (Act 4, Page 132, Line 14). This line states that he knows that Proctor is innocent and wants to see him live, even if it is a lie he is living by. Hale was changed, for the better, he now sees the unjust acts of the court but at the cost of a good man, John Proctor.
Reverend Parris seems to have felt quite the change in personality as a result of remorse and guilt. The beginning of the play shows us a side of Parris that is quite a favorable man. Throughout the play, Parris’s character unfolds and his true colors are seen. At the dawning of the play, Parris dislikes Proctor but it is a small rivalry and not a life jeopardizing matter.
Parris is a minister who is afraid of what the public may think of his authenticity if his own niece is believed to have practiced witchcraft, so for that reason he keeps silent about the fact that Abby was dancing in the woods with a group of girls.
Later into the play, Parris is eager to provoke Judge Danforth into accusing anyone and everyone of witchcraft. He is changed from a mild-tempered minister into a cold, bitter man who is bound and determined to rid Salem of the devil. Parris would like nothing more but to see Proctor in peril since he has been standing up to Parris’s ways of running a theocracy. Proctor ends up in a bind at the hands of Parris, Mary Warren, Abigail, and Judge Danforth.
Parris does not want to see Proctor hanged, he merely wants to see Proctor weaken at the knees and give into lies and be humiliated for his sins. When Proctor refuses to confess to such nonsense and choose death over dishonor, Parris feels that he is now in over his head and the situation is out of hand. He wants Proctor to live and even tried to convince Elizabeth Proctor to convince John to submit to siding with the devil.
Parris pleaded with but to no avail. John has too much pride to do such an uncivil act by betraying his friends and blackening their names. After witnessing such an unjust act, Parris feels guilt and remorse for these people who he knew and had faith in. It seems that when situations get far beyond driven, all one can do is hope for the best. Parris hoped for the best but to no absolution, Proctor was executed and the remorse stuck with Parris thereafter.
Abigail Williams was a key figure in The Crucible. She was the reason that innocent people were put to death and that the whole Salem community was delved into a world of catastrophe. She was manipulating and it seemed that she showed no remorse. Throughout the play, Abigail changes from a publicly innocent and manipulating teenage hussy to a guilty, manipulating, teenage hussy. All she wants is Elizabeth Proctor out of the picture and her and John to live happily ever after, but she goes about it in an immature and sinister manner.
Being a very influential figure, she decides to declare witchcraft on anybody who crosses her. She knows that Elizabeth doesn?t like her and is basically waiting for an event in which she can declare Elizabeth a witch. When Abigail sees Mary Warren with a doll, she figures that if she fakes a needle in the belly, that Elizabeth Proctor would be accused and that she will be hanged. John comes to the defense of his wife and in the end, she lives, and it is his life that is taken, all because of a manipulating teenager taking advantage of a prevalent hysteria.
Abigail is remorseful, for she is the main reason that John was executed and that is the last thing that she wanted. She is to blame for the destruction of society in Salem, and she has it well known in her heart, this causes her remorse and a guilty conscience.
Reverend John Hale, Reverend Parris, and Abigail Williams are all victims of their own actions. They all feel guilt for what has happened and they are all remorseful. Remorse plays an extensive factor to the Salem community in the aftermath of the hangings. People change throughout their lives, and it is demonstrated throughout Arthur Miller?s The Crucible. The feelings of guilt and remorse inhabited the people of Salem after the hanging of John Proctor.
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