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Complete List of Crucible Characters

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jun 3, 2016 4:00:00 PM

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Who are The Crucible characters? What do they do and when do they show up in the play? Find out in this overview of the characters in Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

In this article, I'll go over each of the Crucible characters by name, pinpoint which act(s) each character appears in and/or is mentioned in, and briefly describe each character and what she/he does in The Crucible.

 

Central Cast of The Crucible

To start off with, I'll discuss the seven characters in The Crucible who are integral to the plot of the drama: John Proctor, Abigail Williams, Mary Warren, Giles Corey, Rebecca Nurse, Reverend Hale, and Elizabeth Proctor. For each of these characters, you'll get an overview of their relationships with other characters in the play, a short description of their personality, and a rundown of the actions they take throughout the play.

 

John Proctor

John Proctor is the central character whom the drama of The Crucible revolves around. This primacy is helped by the fact that he has relationships with many of the other characters in the play: Proctor is husband to Elizabeth Proctor, former (adulterous) lover of Abigail Williams, employer of Mary Warren, friend of Giles Corey and Francis Nurse (and by extension their wives), and not a fan (though not precisely an enemy) of Reverend Parris. Proctor is described by Miller as “respected and even feared in Salem,” having “a sharp and biting way with hypocrites” even though he “regards himself as a kind of a fraud” (p. 19) due to his affair with Abigail Williams.

Act 1: We find out that Proctor had an affair with Abigail that he says he no longer wishes to continue. Proctor is skeptical of witchcraft and of Parris's claims of persecution and leaves shortly after Reverend Hale arrives at the Parris household.

Act 2: Elizabeth and John discuss the events that have been happening in Salem; Elizabeth encourages John to tell the court what Abigail told him about the girls faking it, which triggers a discussion about John's affair with Abigail and his continuing guilt about it. Over the course of the act, Proctor becomes frightened of the power the girls have with their accusations, especially once his wife is arrested for witchcraft.

Act 3: Proctor goes to court to fight the charges against his wife and dispute the veracity of the girls' claims; he eventually ends up being accused of witchcraft himself.

Act 4: Tormented over whether or not to confess to witchcraft to save himself, Proctor ultimately ends up tearing up his signed confession and going to the gallows with what remains of his integrity intact.

For a deeper exploration of John Proctor’s character traits and actions, read our character analysis of him.

 

Abigail Williams

Also Known As: Abby Williams

Abigail is the niece of Reverend Parris and the cousin of Betty Parris. She also used to work as a servant with the Proctors, before she was sent away by Elizabeth Proctor for having an affair with Elizabeth's husband John. She is friends (or at least acquaintances) with Mercy Lewis and eventually becomes the ringleader of the "afflicted" girls (i.e. the girls who accuse people of being witches). Miller describes Abigail as "seventeen...a strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an endless capacity for dissembling" (p. 8); in essence, he is calling her a pretty little liar.

Act 1: Abigail is accused by her uncle of dancing in the woods (possibly naked) and of being soiled; she vehemently denies this, but when he leaves Betty wakes and accuses Abigail of drinking a potion to kill Elizabeth Proctor. Eventually, Abigail manages to get out of being punished by first accusing Tituba of forcing her to drink the potion and then appearing to confess her bewitching and accusing others of witchcraft.

Act 2: We find out, first via Mary Warren and then via Ezekiel Cheever, that Abigail has accused Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft.

Act 3: Abigail is questioned about faking her symptoms and denounces it as a lie; she then leads the girls in a hysterical display against Mary Warren when Mary tries to discredit them and succeeds in influencing Mary to abandon her testimony.

Act 4: We hear from her uncle, Reverend Parris, that Abigail has run off with Mercy Lewis and some of her uncle’s money. 

For more about Abigail Williams and her role in The Crucible, read our in-depth discussion of Abby, and our analysis of important Abigail Williams quotes.

 

body_abigailwilliams-2.jpgMe? Accuse someone of witchcraft so I could marry her husband and run off with my uncle's money when that didn't work out? Whyever would you think such a thing?

 

Mary Warren

Mary Warren is a servant to John and Elizabeth Proctor and part of the group of girls accusing people of witchcraft. Described by Miller as "seventeen, a subservient, naïve lonely girl" (p. 17), Mary is motivated both by her desire to be a part of "the great doings in the world" (p. 20) and her fears of getting in trouble (whether with Abigail or the Proctors).

Act 1: Mary shows up at the Parris household to confer with Abigail and Mercy about what's going on (since they were all dancing in the woods the night before).

Act 2: Mary arrives back at the Proctors' slightly more confident due to her role in the court; she brings Elizabeth a poppet she made and both the Proctors news of what has been happening in Salem and reveals that she managed to stave off one accusation of witchcraft against Elizabeth (although it turns out that after Mary left, Elizabeth was accused again). After Elizabeth is arrested and taken away, Mary is yelled at by John Proctor and told she has to testify in court about how she made the poppet, stuck a needle in it, and gave it to Elizabeth.

Act 3: Mary is bullied by John Proctor into testifying how there is nothing supernatural occurring in Salem. This ends up backfiring when she is accused of sending her spirit to torment the girls; eventually, Mary accuses Proctor himself of being a witch and returns to the fold of accusers.

Discover more about Mary Warren’s role in The Crucible with our character analysis of her.

 

Giles Corey

Giles Corey is husband to Martha Corey and friends with John Proctor and Francis Nurse. A cantankerous old man who has no problem suing even his friends for perceived insults, Giles is described by Miller as "a crank and a nuisance, but withal a deeply innocent and brave man" (p. 38).

Act 1: Giles wanders into the Parris house to find out what’s going on. He tells Reverend Hale that he thinks it’s weird his wife Martha reads all the time and that whenever she reads, Giles has trouble praying (conveniently omitting the information that Giles has just started to go to church more regularly and so naturally would have difficulty remembering his prayers).

Act 2: Giles comes to the Proctors’ house along with Francis Nurse to report that both their wives have been arrested for witchcraft; he asks Proctor’s advice for what to do

Act 3: Giles storms into court to try to prove his wife isn’t a witch. He ends up being condemned for contempt of court when he won’t name the person who told him that Putnam’s daughter accused George Jacobs of being a witch in order to be able to purchase George Jacobs’ forfeited land.

Act 4: We learn via Elizabeth Proctor that Giles was pressed to death (with stones on his chest) since he refused to answer the accusations against him one way or another so his property would stay in his family.

For a more detailed discussion of Giles Corey and what happened to him, read our dedicated Giles Corey character analysis.

 

Rebecca Nurse

Also Known As: Goody Nurse

Rebecca is married to Francis Nurse. She is friendly with everyone in Salem except for Ann Putnam, whose concerns over her daughter Ruth Rebecca kind of brushes off in Act 1.

Act 1: Rebecca comes over to the Parris household and tries to calm everyone down, saying it’s probably just girls being girls and not anything supernatural. When it becomes clear that everyone else wants to go ahead with the investigation of possible witchy causes for the girls’ behavior, she departs.

Act 2: The audience learns from Francis Nurse that Rebecca has been arrested for the murder of Ann Putnam’s seven children who died in infancy.

Act 3: The audience learns via Hale that Rebecca has been found guilty of witchcraft in court (p. 80).

Act 4: Rebecca is saddened to learn that John is going to confess to witchcraft, then uplifted when he decides not to; they both go to the gallows together.

For more discussion of the function of Rebecca Nurse in the play, make sure to read our complete analysis of Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible The Crucible.

 

Reverend John Hale

Reverend Hale is an "expert" on witchcraft, called in from Beverly by Reverend Parris as a precautionary measure (in case Betty Parris's affliction is supernatural in nature). Described by Miller at the beginning of the play as "nearing forty, a tight-skinned, eager-eyed intellectual," (p. 30), Hale changes over the course of the play from an idealist who believes he has the power to root out the Devil to a disillusioned man who realizes he has added to a hysteria and caused the deaths of innocents.

Act 1: Hale appears in response to Parris’s summons. Excited to use his specialized skills to hunt out the Devil, Hale ends up (inadvertently) pressuring Tituba into confessing until she names names.

Act 2: Hale comes to the Proctors to check in on them, since he’s heard some disturbing things about them (John doesn’t go to church often, Elizabeth was accused of being a witch that day, etc); he quizzes John on his commandments and is upset/shocked to hear that the girls might be faking their fits and lying to the court. He seems conflicted (“in great pain”) but still unwilling to completely accept how thoroughly he’s screwed everything up (p. 68).

Act 3: Hale ineffectually tries to stop the juggernaut he has set into motion; he now realizes that witchcraft isn’t as black and white as he thought because at least some of the accusations clearly stem from ulterior motivations and there's no evidence besides hearsay for convictions…but it’s too late. Storms off after Proctor is ordered to jail by Danforth (p. 111), denouncing the court and what it is doing.

Act 4: Hale has returned to Salem to try to get the accused witches to confess and save their lives so he can feel less guilty/accumulate less blood on his hands. He does not succeed.

 

body_dejection.jpgReverend Hale, by the end of  The Crucible.

Reykjavik statue/used under CC BY 2.0/Cropped from original.

 

Elizabeth Proctor

Elizabeth Proctor is married to John Proctor. Elizabeth dislikes Abigail Williams, likely due to the fact that John Proctor committed adultery with Abigail. While Miller does not give Elizabeth any specific stage direction descriptions they way he does with many of the other characters, we learn through various bits of dialogue that Elizabeth had been sick the previous winter (p. 61).

Act 2: Elizabeth tries to urge her husband to go to town to tell everyone Abigail is a liar – first because it’s the right thing to do, then because she’s worried Abigail is going to accuse Elizabeth of being a witch in order to take her place in John’s life (and bed). She is disappointed that John met with Abigail alone and somehow failed to mention that detail to her, but is not allowed to defend herself because John’s internal guilt causes him to react angrily and volubly to her fears.

Elizabeth accepts a poppet from Mary and tries to protect Mary from John’s wrath at Mary's having neglected her duties at home to go off to the court and accuse people of witchcraft. At the end of the act, Elizabeth is arrested and taken in after it’s revealed Abigail called her out as a witch (after Mary Warren and Hale left for the day) and she has that damning poppet with a needle stuck in it.

Act 3: Elizabeth is brought into the court to confirm that Abigail Williams was dismissed from her position for sleeping with John Proctor, since John has boasted that Elizabeth never lies. In a crisis of faith, Elizabeth chooses to lie to protect her husband’s reputation; this unfortunately ends up having a negative effect as it undercuts John’s accusation that Abigail is accusing Elizabeth of being a witch in order to marry John.

Act 4: Elizabeth is asked by Danforth and Hale to convince John to confess to save his life; instead, she basically just acts as a sounding board while John agonizes over what to do. She also tearfully confesses that John Proctor is the best and that she shouldn’t have judged him because only he can judge himself, and tells him that whatever he chooses is okay by her (p. 127):

Do what you will. But let none be your judge. There be no higher judge under Heaven than Proctor is! Forgive me, forgive me, John—I never knew such goodness in the world! She covers her face, weeping.

When Parris and Hale try to get Elizabeth to stop John after he’s torn up his confession and is on his way to the gallows, she does not, stating, “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!” (p. 134).

 

Other Salem Residents in The Crucible

Aside from the seven central Crucible characters listed above, there are also many other Salem residents who appear in this play. Whether they accuse others of being witches, are accused of being witches themselves, or are simply townspeople with an axe to grind against Reverend Parris, the characters below all contribute to move the action of the plot forward.

 

Reverend Samuel Parris

Reverend Parris is the father of Betty Parris, uncle of Abigail Williams, and minister of Salem. He is not portrayed in a positive light in this play, being described by Miller from the very beginning as someone who "cut a villainous path through history" who "believed he was being persecuted wherever he went." Through his actions and words, Parris "very little good to be said for him" (p. 3).

Act 1: Parris is worried that Betty is sick, so he has called on Dr. Griggs for medical care and sent for Reverend Hale for spiritual care. He questions Abigail about her dancing in the woods with Betty and Tituba and discusses how he thinks there are people plotting against him and his fears about how people will perceive him if witchcraft is discovered under his roof.

Act 3: Still self-important and petty, Parris accuses people who he perceives as a threat or who state they don't believe in witchcraft of lying or having "come to overthrow the court" (p. 82).

Act 4: Parris asks Danforth and Hathorne to meet him in jail to discuss the dangers attendant on hanging well-respected members of the community like Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor. Parris explains that he and Hale have been praying with the convicted witches and hoping they'll confess; for Parris, this is because the people about to hang are influential and so their deaths might cause trouble for him. He also mentions that Abigail has disappeared and seems to have stolen his life savings, which prompts Danforth to call him "a brainless man" (p. 117).

Parris also tells Danforth that he's been threatened as a result of his actions in the witch trials: “Tonight, when I open my door to leave my house – a dagger clattered to the ground” (p. 119), but Danforth does not seem to care.

 

Betty Parris

Betty is the ten-year-old daughter of Reverend Parris and cousin to Abigail Williams...and doesn't get much more of a character description/development than that. She is the third person in Salem to accuse people of witchcraft (after Tituba and Abby). Other than a brief time onstage in Act 3 (when she chants in unison with the rest of the witch-accusing girls), Betty is only onstage during the opening act of the play.

During Act 1, Betty falls ill after dancing in the woods with Tituba and some of the other girls of the village (Abigail Williams, Mercy Lewis, Mary Warren, and Ruth Putnam). When she temporarily rouses from her stupor, Betty accuses Abigail of drinking a potion to kill Goody Proctor (p.18), before falling back into an inert state. Betty livens up again at the end of the act to chime in with her own hysterical accusations of witchcraft.

 

Tituba

In her forties, Tituba is Reverend Parris’s slave that he brought with him from Barbados. She is devoted to Betty (p. 7, p. 41) but possibly harbors some resentment against Parris that comes out in her "confession" of witchcraft (p. 44):

TITUBA, in a fury: He say Mr. Parris must be kill! Mr. Parris no goodly man, Mr. Parris mean man and no gentle man, and he bid me rise out of my bed and cut your throat! They gasp. But I tell him “No! I don’t hate that man. I don’t want kill that man.” But he say, “You work for me, Tituba, and I make you free! I give you pretty dress to wear, and put you way high up in the air, and you gone fly back to Barbados!”

Various townspeople (Abigail, Mrs. Putnam) seem to think that Tituba also can "conjure" spirits, which at some points it seems that Tituba herself may also believe ("Devil, him be pleasure-man in Barbados, him be singin’ and dancin’ in Barbados. It’s you folks – you riles him up ‘round here; it be too cold ‘round here for that old Boy. He freeze his soul in Massachusetts, but in Barbados he just as sweet...", p. 113).

Act 1: Tituba tries to find out how "her beloved" Betty is doing, but Parris shoos her away; later, she is accused by Abigail of forcing the girls to do the Devil’s work. When pressured by Hale and Parris to confess and give the names of those who are abetting her, Tituba eventually does by naming Goody Good and Goody Osburn (the two women Putnam had previously suggested as witch candidates).

Act 4: Tituba is in the jail with Sarah Good, acting as if she very much believes in the Devil. She and Goody Good are hustled out by Herrick to make way for the judges.

 

Susanna Walcott

Susanna works for Doctor Griggs and is described by Miller as "a little younger than Abigail, a nervous, hurried girl" (p. 8). Eventually, she joins in with Abigail, Betty, Mercy, and Mary as the "afflicted girls" who accuse others of witchcraft.

Act 1: Susanna tells Reverend Parris that Doctor Griggs is concerned Betty’s illness is supernatural in origin (p. 9).

Act 2: Susanna has become part of the group of accusers; is one of the people Mary Warren says would’ve witnessed Mary sewing the poppet in court (p. 72).

Act 3: Susanna joins in with Abigail and Mercy in accusing Mary Warren of bewitching them via Mary’s bird-shaped spirit (p. 107).

 

body_fluffyyellowbird.jpg steve p2008/used under CC BY 2.0/Cropped from original.

 

Mercy Lewis

Mercy is a servant to the Putnams and seems to be the particular caretaker of Ruth. She also appears friendly with Abigail Williams (which makes sense, as they were dancing in the woods together) and contemptuous of Mary Warren. Mercy is described by Miller as "a fat, sly, merciless [get it, get it, because her name is MERCY yet she shows no mercy] girl of eighteen" (p. 16).

Act 1: Mercy has come to the Parris house to find out what’s going on. She gets to confer with Abigail about getting their stories straight about what happened in the woods (since Mercy was apparently running around naked in the woods) before she's sent away to get Doctor Griggs for Ruth.

Act 3: Mercy is one of the girls in court who accuses Mary Warren of bewitching them via Mary’s bird-shaped spirit (p. 106).

Act 4: Parris says that he believes Mercy has run away with his niece, Abigail Williams (p. 116).

 

Mrs. Ann Putnam

Also Known As: Goody Putnam, Goody Ann

Ann Putnam is wife to Thomas Putnam and the mother of the afflicted Ruth (who we never see onstage) and seven other dead children (who we also never see onstage — because they're dead). There appears to be some friction between her and Rebecca Nurse, possibly because Rebecca Nurse has many living children and grandchildren while Ann only has the one child; it also seems that Rebecca may have chided Ann in the past for not being up to snuff (p. 36):

Let God blame me, not you, not you, Rebecca! I’ll not have you judging me any more!

Miller further describes Ann as being “a twisted soul of forty-five, a death-ridden woman, haunted by dreams” (p. 12). So clearly the woman has some issues.

Act 1: Ann comes to the Parris household to find out what’s going on and report that her daughter is being afflicted by something possibly supernatural. She knows that the cause of her daughter's illness is something supernatural because she sent her daughter to Tituba to find out (via supernatural means) who murdered Ann’s other seven children in infancy.

Ann is ready and willing to believe any explanation for why her children died except that it was natural causes (understandable for a grieving mother). She seizes eagerly upon Tituba’s saying that Goody Osburn was a witch, saying, “I knew it! Goody Osburn were midwife to me three times. I begged you, Thomas, did I not? I begged him not to call Osburn because I feared her. My babies always shriveled in her hands!” (p. 44).

 

Thomas Putnam

Thomas Putnam is husband to Ann Putnam and father of the afflicted Ruth. Described by Miller as "a well-to-do, hard-handed landowner, near fifty" (p. 12) and "deeply embittered" with "a vindictive nature" (p. 14), Putnam has quarrels with nearly every major (male) character who appears onstage in this play. He dislikes Francis and Rebecca Nurse (since their family helped block Putnam’s candidate for minister), Reverend Parris (since he got the job instead of Putnam’s brother-in-law), John Proctor (because he is chopping down wood that Thomas Putnam believes rightfully belongs to him), and Giles Corey (because Corey accuses him of conspiring with his daughter Ruth to kill another man for his land).

Act 1: Putnam urges Parris to investigate possible supernatural causes of Betty’s (and his daughter Ruth’s) ailments. Miller intimates (via stage directions) that Putnam doesn’t necessarily believe in witchcraft – he just is looking for a way to gain power and/or make Parris do something dumb that he can then exploit: “at the moment he is intent upon getting Parris, for whom he has only contempt, to move toward the abyss” (p. 14).

Act 3: Putnam briefly shows up in court to say that Giles’ accusations against him are a lie (p.89).

 

Francis Nurse

Francis is the husband of accused witch Rebecca Nurse and friends with Giles Corey and John Proctor. Francis is described by Miller as "one of those men for whom both sides of the argument had to have respect," although "as he gradually paid for [the land he'd originally rented] and raised his social status, there were those who resented his rise" (p. 24). Basically, Francis is seen as a fair and upstanding citizen of Salem, although there are some who resent his social-climbing. Through one of Miller's character essays, we learn that Francis is part of the faction that opposed Thomas Putnam’s candidate for minister of Salem (p. 24), which led to bad feelings between the two families (that may have motivated the accusations of Rebecca as a witch).

Act 2: Francis lets the Proctors know his wife’s in jail and charged with supernatural murder (p. 67).

Act 3: Francis appears in court to present evidence of the girls’ fraud jointly with John Proctor and Giles Corey (p. 80); brings a petition signed by neighbors attesting to his wife’s good name that is then used by the court as a source for arrest warrants, much to Francis’s horror (p. 87)

 

Sarah Good

Also Known As: Goody Good

The first woman to be accused of witchcraft in Salem, Sarah Good is described by Elizabeth Proctor as “Goody Good that sleeps in ditches” (p. 58).

Act 1: Thomas Putnam floats her name as a possible witch (p. 43); Tituba then picks up on this priming and names her as a co-conspirator (p. 44), followed shortly by Abby (p. 45)

Act 2: Mary Warren reports that Sarah Good confessed to attacking the girls supernaturally and so won’t hang; also, Sarah is pregnant at age 60.

Act 4: The first (and only) time Sarah Good appears onstage is at the beginning of this act: she is hanging out with Tituba in the jail, acting a little crazy, and seeming to see the Devil. It's unclear whether she thinks the Devil is real or if she’s just playing along at this point because she doesn't have anything to lose and won't be hanged since she's confessed and is pregnant.

 

body_devilgirl.jpg

 

The Court Officials

Besides the general residents of Salem, The Crucible also has the characters involved in the “legal” part of the witch trials and the “justice” system.

 

Ezekiel Cheever

Cheever was originally an “honest tailor” (p. 69) but by the time of his appearance in the play (in Act 2) has become “a clerk of the court” (p. 68). Elizabeth that he "knows [John Proctor] well" (p. 50), but by the time of the trials it is clear that he is no longer held in quite as high esteem ("You'll burn for this, do you know it?", p. 69).

Act 2: Cheever comes to arrest Elizabeth Proctor on orders from the court; he is convinced of her guilt when he finds a poppet with a needle stuck in it (p. 70), and isn't willing to believe other explanations for it, even though Mary Warren clearly states that she's the one who made the poppet and stuck the needle in it.

Act 3: Cheever testifies about his experience with Goody Proctor and John Proctor in the previous Act (finding the poppet after Elizabeth denied keeping them, John ripping up the arrest warrant); though he prefaces his testimony with an apology to Proctor

 

Marshal Herrick

Herrick is the marshal for the court system in Salem, which is to say that he is the person sent to gather up prisoners, stop people from leaving the court and from attacking other people in the court, and lead convicted witches to be hanged.

Act 2: Along with Cheever, Herrick comes to the Proctors' house to take Elizabeth Proctor away to the jail, as per orders of the court.

Act 3: Herrick vouches for John Proctor’s character (p. 86) and acts as the arm of the court (he stops Proctor from attacking Abigail, stops Abigail from leaving when she’s accused of whorishness, and is asked to take Proctor and Corey to jail).

Act 4: Herrick drunkenly clears Sarah Good and Tituba out of on cell of the jail to make way for the judges’ discussion with Parris and Hale. He also shepherds the prisoners (Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, and Rebecca Nurse) back and forth between the cells, the main room, and (ultimately) the gallows.

 

Judge Hathorne

Judge Hathorne is a Salem judge presiding over the witchcraft trials. Described by Miller in the stage directions as “a bitter, remorseless Salem judge” (p. 78), Hathorne lives up to that depiction in both word and deed – he shows no mercy to the accused witches or their families and is always willing to believe the worst of people. Judge Hathorne appears in Acts 3 and 4 of The Crucible.

Act 3: Hathorne is very concerned with all civilians showing the proper respect to the court and the law (although he's less shrill about it than Parris is).

Act 4: Hathorne comes to the jail to confer with Danforth; he is confused by and suspicious of why Hale is back, disapproves of Parris’s increasingly “unsteady” and wishy-washy demeanor (p. 115), and seems to think everyone is filled with “high satisfaction” (p. 117) at the hangings of the witches.

Fun fact: The character of Judge Hathorne is based on the historical Hathorne who was so reviled that his descendant, author Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter, House of the Seven Gables), changed the spelling of his last name to avoid being associated with him.

 

Deputy Governor Danforth

At the time of the events in the play, Danforth is the Deputy Governor of the entire Province (of Massachusetts). Danforth oversees all of the court proceedings in the play as the highest legal authority. He is described by Miller as "a grave man in his sixties, of some humor and sophistication that do not, however, interfere with an exact loyalty to his position and his cause" (p. 79). While no one in the play seems to like him, exactly, he does command respect from most of the characters, at least at first - as the play continues and it becomes clear that Danforth is more concerned about procedure than justice, characters (including Giles Corey and John Proctor) vocally display their loss of respect for Danforth.

Act 3: The audience first sees Danforth in his position as the presiding court judge for the witch trials. Danforth is not swayed by emotion but is swayed by the girls’ demonstrations of witchcraft (perhaps because he can see it with his own eyes, feel their clammy skin, etc). The combination of his dispassionate questioning and his belief in witchcraft means that what logically follows is him ordering the arrests of everyone who signed the petition affirming the good characters of Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey, holding Giles in contempt of court, and ordering Proctor’s arrest.

Act 4: Danforth fills the audience in on what has been going on in Salem between Acts 3 and 4. He continues to lack detectable emotions and base his decisions on legality (e.g. it wouldn’t be fair to postpone the hangings of these witches because we already hanged others) instead of morality (we should avoid killing people unless absolutely necessary and unless all other avenues have been exhausted). When he senses that John Proctor might not be entirely aboveboard in his confession, he warns that if Proctor is lying about being a witch, then he can't stop Proctor from hanging; when Proctor rips up his confession, Danforth feels no qualms about sending him to the gallows (p. 134):

Hang them high over the town! Who weeps for these, weeps for corruption! He sweeps out past them.

 

Hopkins

A guard at the Salem jail who helps Herrick clear Tituba and Goody Good out of the room to make way for Danforth in Act 4. Hopkins doesn’t even get a first name, and only has one line (p.113) - he's mostly there to announce Danforth's arrival.

 

body_supreme-court.jpg

 

Unseen Characters in The Crucible

There are several characters in The Crucible who don’t actually show up onstage but still play an important role in the play. In one case, a character actually has more lines from offstage (Martha Corey) than another character does onstage (Hopkins), while in other cases these offstage, unseen characters are used to move along the action of the play.

 

Martha Corey

Martha Corey is the (third) wife of Giles Corey, accused of witchcraft directly by Walcott (and indirectly by Giles himself). We learn through Francis Nurse that Martha Corey is highly thought of in town - or at least, she was until she was accused of witchcraft (p. 67):

...Martha Corey, there cannot be a woman closer yet to God than Martha.

While Martha never appears onstage, she is mentioned in all four acts and has three offstage lines in Act 3.

Act 1: Giles first brings up his suspicions that Martha's bookishness is somehow causing him to falter at his prayers (despite the fact that he only started regularly going to church when he married her, and so "it didn't take much to make him stumble over [his prayers]" (p. 38).

Act 2: Giles reports that Martha's been taken away after Walcott accuses her of bewitching his pigs; Giles explains that he didn’t mean to imply his wife was a witch because she read books (even though that is absolutely what he implied).

Act 3: Martha is heard from offstage being questioned by Judge Hathorne about witchcraft at the opening of the act; later, she is mentioned as being one of two accused witches who 91 people declared their good opinion of in a petition (p. 86-87).

Act 4: Martha is mentioned as one of the accused witches Hale is trying to convince to confess; later, when John Proctor asks if Martha’s confessed, Elizabeth confirms that “[s]he will not” (p. 125).

 

Ruth Putnam

The only surviving child of Thomas and Ann Putnam, Ruth, like Betty Parris, shows signs of being bewitched. According to Ruth's parents, Ruth was sent by her mother to Tituba to figure out who supernaturally murdered Ruth's seven dead infant siblings; this is no doubt the reason why Ruth "never waked this morning, but her eyes open and she walks, and hears naught, sees naught, and cannot eat" (p. 13). While she never appears onstage, Ruth (and her strange illness) is used in absentia to corroborate the presence of some supernatural evil in Salem during Act 1.

Ruth is only brought up again a couple of times during the rest of the play: in Act 3, the audience learns that Ruth is said to have accused George Jacobs of being a witch (p. 89), and that she is not in the court when John Proctor brings Mary Warren to confront the other girls (p. 94).

 

Sarah Osburn

Also Known As: Goody Osburn

The name of Goody Osburn first comes up in Act 1, when she is suggested by Thomas Putnam as a possible witch (p. 43). This suggestion is then corroborated by the accusations of Tituba (p. 44) and Abigail Williams (p. 45). In Act 2, we learn that Good Osburn is the first witch to be condemned to hang in Salem (p. 54). We also learn that it's not all that surprising that someone would accuse Goody Osburn of being a witch, since she is “drunk and half-witted” (p.58).

 

George Jacobs

In the first act of The Crucible, George Jacobs is named as a witch by Betty Parris (p. 45). His name briefly comes up in Act 2 as the owner of a heifer John Proctor is thinking about buying for his wife (p. 48), but it is not until Act 3 that he becomes more important. In Act 3, Giles Corey alleges that he's heard that Ruth Putnam accused George Jacobs of witchcraft because convicted witches forfeit their property, and the only person who has enough money to buy up that property just so happens to be Ruth’s father, Thomas Putnam (p. 89): 

...the day [Putnam's] daughter cried out on Jacobs, he said she’d given him a fair gift of land...

The accusation that Ruth had basically handed her father George Jacobs' property by accusing him of witchcraft, however, is never brought to trial because Giles refuses to reveal the name of the person who told him about Putnam's words; therefore, George Jacobs becomes the indirect cause of Giles being arrested for contempt of court (and, ultimately, pressed to death).

 

Bridget Bishop

Also Known As: Goody Bishop

Bridget Bishop is a tavern proprietor in Salem (p. 4) and is the first witch named by Abigail who wasn’t also named by Tituba (p. 45). Goody Bishop's main role in The Crucible is as a contrast to Rebecca Nurse; to illustrate how the people hanged earlier in the play were of lower moral character than those set to hang during Act 4, Parris mentions how Bridget “lived three year with Bishop before she married him” (p. 117).

 

Doctor Griggs

Doctor Griggs is mentioned in Act 1 as the man Parris has consulted with to find out what’s wrong with Betty (p. 8) and in Act 2 as the man who confirms Sarah Good is pregnant (p. 56). He's also the employer of Susanna Walcott.

 

Other People Mentioned in The Crucible

In addition to all the characters who we've previously discussed, there are also several other people mentioned over the course of the play. Some of these names are useful to know because they give context to character relationships that shape how events unfold in The Crucible (for instance, James Bayley is the brother-in-law of Putnam who was passed over for minister of Salem due to opposition by other townspeople, including Francis Nurse, which causes bad blood between the two families). Some of the other names might be useful if your teacher asks you to list off people accused of witchcraft over the course of the play, or to list people who accused others of witchcraft.

Whatever the reason, if you want a list of every name mentioned in The Crucible, we're here for you: see below for the nittiest-of-the-grittiest table of all the named people in The Crucible.

 

Name

Description

Citation

Mr. Collins

Reports seeing Betty Parris flying.

p. 12

Ingersoll

Owns the barn over which Betty Parris is said to have flown.

p. 12

James Bayley

Brother-in-law of Thomas Putnam who was prevented from becoming minister of Salem by “a faction” (including Francis Nurse & family).

p. 13

John Putnam

Brother of Thomas Putnam who helped Thomas jail George Burroughs.

p. 14

George Burroughs

Minister of Salem jailed for debts he didn’t owe by Thomas and John Putnam (possibly out of spite because Burroughs became minister where Bayley wasn’t able to)

p. 14

Edward Putnam

Signer of the first complaint against Rebecca Nurse; brother of Thomas Putnam.

p. 25

Jonathan Putnam

Signer of the first complaint against Rebecca Nurse; brother of Thomas Putnam.

p. 25

Goody Howe

Accused of being a witch by Betty Parris.

p. 45

Martha Bellows

Accused of being a witch by Betty Parris.

p. 45

Goody Sibber

Accused of being a witch by Abigail Williams.

p. 45

Alice Barrow

Accused of being a witch by Betty Parris.

p. 45

Goody Hawkins

Accused of being a witch by Abigail Williams.

p. 46

Goody Bibber

Accused of being a witch by Betty Parris.

p. 46

Goody Booth

Accused of being a witch by Abigail Williams.

p. 46

Jonathan [Proctor]

Son of Elizabeth and John Proctor. Is not the person who snared the rabbit eaten for dinner by John and Elizabeth in Act 2.

p. 48

Walcott

Father or other relative of Susanna Walcott. Accuses Martha Corey of witchcraft against his pigs.

p. 68

Judge Stoughton

Judge at the Salem witch trials.

p. 86

Judge Sewall

Judge at the Salem witch trials.

p. 86

Mr. Lewis

Father of Mercy Lewis; reports he thought his daughter was staying over with Abigail Williams for a night.

p. 116

Isaac Ward

Drunk Salem resident hanged as a witch; John Proctor is compared favorably to him.

p. 117

Goody Ballard

Named by Elizabeth Proctor as someone who confessed to being a witch.

p. 124

Isaiah Goodkind

Named by Elizabeth Proctor as someone who confessed to being a witch.

p. 124

 

 

Common Discussion Topics for The Crucible Characters

Now you know all about the characters in The Crucible. But what might you be asked about them? Here are some common essay questions/discussion topics about characters in The Crucible. Practice answering them for yourself to gain a deeper understanding of the play (even if your teachers don't end up asking you these specific questions).

  • Choose a character who you think might represent a certain "type" of person. In your essay, argue which type of person this character represents. Use evidence from the play to support your claims. Be sure to explain why Arthur Miller might have chosen to have this character represent this type of person.
  • Compare and contrast Elizabeth Proctor and Abigail Williams. How is each woman affected by her position in the Puritan theocracy of Salem?
  • How do different characters serve as foils for each other (e.g. Elizabeth and Abigail, Hale and Danforth)?
  • How do characters change throughout the play, namely John Proctor, Mary Warren, and Reverend Hale?
  • How does John and Elizabeth Proctor’s relationship drive the play?
  • Choose one character from The Crucible. Then, argue whether their actions throughout the drama are selfish or sacrificial. Are they heroic or villainous?
  • Was Proctor’s decision not to confess foolish or noble? Is John Proctor a tragic hero? Is The Crucible as a whole a tragedy?
  • How does John Proctor’s dilemma change over the course of the play?
  • Can we fully blame Abigail for the events in the play?

For more about how to write effectively about the characters of The Crucible, be sure to read our article on character analysis in The Crucible.

 

What’s Next?

Looking for specific character analyses from The Crucible? We’ve got detailed guides to John Proctor, Abigail Williams, Mary Warren, Giles Corey, and Rebecca Nurse on our blog.

Want a rundown of the play's action? Then be sure to read our full plot summary of The Crucible.

Are you wondering, “What themes does this play cover? Is McCarthyism somehow involved?” Find out with our discussions of The Crucible themes and McCarthyism in The Crucible!

 

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Laura Staffaroni
About the Author

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.



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