Abigail’s name

This shows that Proctor was a good man, and that, even though the witchcraft accusations had come about, there was no need for Proctor to be involved, he did not have anything to do with the Devil and was a Puritan throughout. He is also shown to us by Miller as a man worthy of admirers, ‘In Proctor’s presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly – …’. This quote shows Miller wanted the audience to feel that Proctor was a figure that the people in Salem looked up to, aspired to be like in the future. Dramatic irony is then used when Proctor says, ‘I’ve heard you be a sensible man, Mr Hale. I hope you’ll leave some of it in Salem’.

This line makes the audience aware that Proctor himself does not believe the witch claims in Salem, he is ridiculing them. In doing so the audience see him as a strong man with good beliefs and a man who is only trying to do what is right for Salem. Although he does have an affair with Abigail, and so some people would say that this makes him someone that everyone should not want to be like, but let us not forget that the citizens of Salem are not aware of such things, although the audience are the characters are not and so it is then easy, once more, to see why Proctor is such a great man.

About half way through Act II, when questioned about the accusations of witchcraft in Salem he goes on to say, ‘I never knew until tonight that the world is gone daft with this nonsense’. The audience straight away know this is a lie and so get to see the ‘new’ Proctor. Proctor is trying to say he is not aware of the goings on, and how many accusations have surfaced but we all know he knows. This is the start of a demise for Proctor.¬†When Danforth questions Proctor’s wife Elizabeth about his affair with Abigail, she denies any knowledge of it and when Danforth asks Proctor the same thing, he says, ‘- my wife cannot lie.’ This is another lie from Proctor and as we know Elizabeth is lying it starts to show the demise of Proctor and how he is going from a great, well respected man to a weak, liar.

This all comes to a miserable end at the end of Act IV, just before he is taken off for execution Proctor is introduced to Elizabeth once more and the audience see a glimpse of the old Proctor. The fact John and his wife are alone on stage at this point was carefully crafted by Miller which invokes a feeling of pity and reinforces his tragic status. Danforth questions Proctor in order to find out about his doings with the devil, when questioned, although the audience know it to be a lie, Proctor says, ‘I did’.

This shows that Proctor feels the only way he can be repaid for committing adultery to his beloved wife is to be killed, and so in confessing to doing the Devils work he is almost committing suicide. Although this point talks about the old Proctor as he is desperate to cleanse himself of his sins, it does show the change in Proctor from being a confident man to someone who has buckled under the pressure of the court and ultimately suffered death in doing so. This puts the audience on the edge of their seats while clinging on to the hope that John will survive.`

The final person who has undergone change in their character is Abigail, this is not so clear as the other characters in the sense that Abigail is hiding something from the start, at the beginning Abigail is found ‘conjuring’ in the woods with Tituba, and is straight away thrown into the mix as one of the spearheads of the witchcraft allegations in Salem. The audience knows this, yet Abigail’s role is seen as a young, beautiful, innocent little girl (to the audience). During Act I Miller does show the audience Abigail’s true colours, the adults leave the room and all of a sudden Abigail becomes rather violent with Betty. But as soon as this short scene ends Abigail goes back to her old self again, all innocent and cute. And throughout the play she stays like this. All of a sudden, half way through Act I Abigail shows what she is really like, when the accusations of witchcraft come out she says, ‘She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer!’.

This quote alone shows Abigail’s true colours and how she can change from innocent to malicious in a matter of seconds. She only ever shows her true colours when she is threatened and it almost always gets her out of the trouble she happens to be in. In Act 3 she again shows her true side, when Mary Warren is in front of the court she mentions Abigail’s name, at which point Proctor starts to help Mary Warren and blacken Abigail’s name even further, Abigail, realising she is in trouble screams out, ‘A wind, a cold wind, has come.’ This shows once more she would be willing to do almost anything to get herself out of trouble.

What is interesting though is that the girls start to copy her; this shows she is the leader of the pack, and how could she possibly be leader without being bossy and outgoing? She couldn’t possible, meaning she obviously is like that deep down; it is just that Miller chooses to hide this from the audience up until the end. Act III happens to be the last we see of Abigail and even in this short period we see her for is enough to show she has changed somewhat significantly. At the beginning she tried to hide her real personality beneath a barrage of cuteness and innocence but towards the end she has been threatened by the whole ordeal that much that she no longer tries to hide it and instead is rather loud about the situation.

The way Arthur Miller presents the characters throughout is obvious, he intends to show radical change throughout the play. The radical change of the characters in such a short space of time engrosses the audience and interests them. it makes them eagerly await the rest of the play and see if any more change is to occur. Personally I believe the only interesting part in The Crucible is the display of change from the different characters, this is because of how Miller presents it, using stage directions and speech to get his point across. This shows that as the play is so famous the way Miller presents change must be rather special to entice all these audiences.

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