It shows the people’s fear of what they feltwas the Devil’s work and shows how a small group of powerful people wronglyaccused and killed many people out of this fear and ignorance. Also importantto the play is how Arthur Miller depicts how one selfish, evil person likeAbigail Williams can bring others down and make others follow her to commit evilacts. These evil acts affect even the most honest people in the town like Johnand Elizabeth Proctor, and Rebecca Nurse who cannot fight the accusations madeagainst them by those following Abigail. Those following Abigail are consideredto be holy men that are full of honesty and justice, but the play shows thateven those who are thought to be respectable and right, like people ofgovernment or community leaders can bring death to innocent people if they aredriven by something wrong. II.
Plot:The plot begins with the inciting incident where Rev. Parris finds hisniece Abigail Williams and his daughter Betty along with his slave Tituba doingsome dance in the forest. Right when he finds them, Betty becomes sick andwon’t talk or open her eyes, about this time other people’s daughters becomesick too. Rumors spread that witch craft is involved in Betty’s illness and thedevelopment of the plot begins. Important to the major development of the plotis the fact that in the forest, Abigail and the others were just playing likewitches. But they were following Abigail because she wanted to try to put acurse on a lady named Elizabeth Proctor.
Abigail was in love with Mrs. Proctor’s husband, John Proctor, and she wanted to some how get rid of Elizabeth. The problem was that as the rumors spread about the devil Abigail went alongwith it and blamed the slave woman Tituba for forcing her to join the devil. The rising action begins when Tituba out of fear of death starts naming peoplethat she says were with the devil when the devil came to her. This is all a liethough because once Abigail blamed Tituba she did not want to turn the storyaround and admit that she was lying in the first place because one, she wasafraid of the consequences of such a strong lie, and two, because she saw it asan opportunity to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor.
The people of the town made everything worse when they tried hard tofind out who was teaming up with the devil. It was easier for them to blame thedevil for their problems of society than fix the problems of their own strictway of life. So the girls involved with Abigail, like Mercy Lewis and MaryWarren named many people of the town as witches. These people were put and jailand would be hanged if they did not confess to the crime of devil worship orwitch craft. Another part of the developing plot is that John Proctor knowsAbigail and her friends are lying, but he is afraid to say any thing becauseeight months before he had and affair with Abigail and did not want to be seenby the town as a lecher, which means wife cheater.
So, Mr. Proctor has to fightwith himself to come out and tell the truth or his wife might die because ofAbigail saying she was a witch. The climax of the play is in the court room when John Proctor and MaryWarren finally say that Abigail is lying and nobody was doing witch craft. ButAbigail is a good actor and liar and actually turns it around on Mr.
Proctor andsays he tries to get every one to worship the devil. The court finds him guiltyof devil worship and wants to hang him if he does not confess. The fallingaction of the play comes when Rev. Parris comes to court three months later andsays that Abigail has stolen all his money and has left town and he feels guiltyfor the people who were accused by her and hung because of it.
The court doesnot want to admit they were wrong though because they feel the people will rebelif they now come out and say “sorry, we made a small mistake”. So, since theywon’t let Mr. Proctor go, they want him to confess to save his life, hereanother mini climax occurs because he does not want to sign a big lie. Since Mr. Proctor felt guilty about what he did in his past with Abigail he decides thatnow he will save his name with his pride and refuses to sign the confession. Sothe resolution comes with John Proctor’s hanging, but it does not seem like anything was resolved, just that the people who accused the innocent people feelvery guilty with what they did.
III. Characterization:I think the best character development is the one of John Proctor, afarmer that lived in the town. He represents a person who is not perfect buttries hard to be responsible for his family and himself. He is a strong personwho is not afraid to go against society because of what he feels. Since hedisagreed with the Rev. Parris’ sermons he didn’t go to mass and at first didnot get involved with the witch hunts.
This shows that he was his own person. The problem is that this caused him to be the main one to fight the courtbecause he was not friendly with the people who made up the court. Hismotivation in the play is the search for the truth. He values his wife’s loveand the concerns of his children so he wants to be a good man and to him thetruth is very important in being a good man.
His conflict though is his pastaffair with Abigail and because of this he is hesitant to fight the witchhunters and expose Abigail as a liar. But, he wants to be honest and save hiswife. So he has to be truthful and expose himself to the judgement of thetown’s people in order to save his wife and the other innocent people who areaccused. Mr.
Proctor’s friends are only his wife and later Rev. Hale, who atfirst accused many people with Abigail but then saw how she was a liar and triedto save John Proctor. The growth of John Proctor is from some one who tries tofind out who he is in the begging of the play to a person that dies for what hebelieves in a society that wrongly accuses him. In the end he had what hewanted most, integrity. He faced judgement but died in the end with the respectof his wife and those who originally accused him.
IV. Point of View:John Proctor’s view supports my thesis statement very well becausethroughout the story he knew all along that the witch hunt was based on a hugelie from Abigail Williams. So he saw the hysteria and the injustice that wasdeveloping the entire time. He felt that the people of the court, Rev. Parris,Rev. Hale, Judge Hawthorne, and Governor Danforth were killing people in thename of God simply because of their fear of evil.
They jumped to believe thatAbigail was right and that the devil was responsible for all the wrong in thetown. And, even though John Proctor knew all this and he was innocent he stilldied from the hands of the small group of wrong people who thought they weredoing the right thing. V. Theme:The insight to life is not to be so quick to follow the majority, theyare not always right. We should strive to think for ourselves on an individualbasis, we should not judge others because we all have faults, and we shouldalways look out for the hysteria that comes from the combined fears of ignorantpeople.
We should also realize that being an individual has bad effectssometimes and even though we might be right we have to be brave when fightingsociety because we will not always win. VI. Conclusion:I’m glad I read this play. Even though I’ve been told to think formyself, I never saw such a good example of what happens when you don’t. Theplay also had a lot of suspense , I kept wanting to hear the tapes to see whathappened to the characters in the end, it was never boring.
I will now be moreaware of what happens when people are afraid of something and together trywildly to get rid of what they think the problem is. My older brother said theplay “showed the same mentality of the German people during the Holocaust”, andwhen I understood what he meant I say that it is a lot like the part in themovie Beauty and the Beast when the character Gaston makes every body crazy tokill the Beast just because Gaston feels he is evil. The people did not thinkfor them selves and believed some one else and because of that they almostkilled the Beast who was actually innocent.