Honours American Lit, 1st hour
10 October 2011
Guilt in Salem
In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, there is much guilt to go around. There were people who were killed for no good reason, other than the people had a fear of something they did not know. Almost everyone in the town participated, but there are some who are guiltier than others. There is a reverend that did not take charge of his people, and take the power he so much wanted. The man who knew it all was fake, but did not tell anyone before it was too late. As well as a vengeful girl, who had delusions about love. The guilt of the witch trials in Salem lies in the hands of Reverend Parris, John Proctor, and Abigail Williams.
Reverend Parris may not have directly accused the citizens of Salem of witchcraft, but he still holds much of the guilt. He tried to stand up and say that there were no witches in Salem, but he called Reverend Hale, who “has much experience in all demonic art” (Miller 14). If Parris had really believed that there were no witches in Salem, then he should have just told the people that. After all, he was a reverend, so he should know what the devil looked like. By calling Hale, he admitted that there could be witches in Salem, which put many ideas into people’s heads, and made them paranoid. Parris also could have put a stop to the trials at any time, by saying he wanted the court out of his town, and the devil was not at work. The trials could have been stopped at anytime by Parris, but he never even tried to stop them once they got underway. If he had stopped them, then many people would have stayed. Reverend Parris had the power to say there was no devil in Salem, and to stop the trials, but he never did, which in turn, killed many people.
In addition, John Proctor knew it was all sport, but he did not tell people at the beginning. He could have ended it very quickly, if as soon as the first person was accused, he told everyone what Abigail had told him. The problem that Proctor saw in telling was that “She told it to me in a room alone—I have no proof for it” (Miller 53). The truth was though, all he would have to do was convince Betty to tell, because she was in the room as well, when Abigail told Proctor this. With him being such a strong leader, and Betty being so young and probably easy to convince, seeing as she went along with Abigail, it would not have been that hard to do. Also, if Proctor had just told Parris at the beginning, Parris would have believed him, because he was the one who found the girls in the woods, and did not quite trust Abigail in the beginning. Though, Proctor did not tell people soon enough, so when he did, he was not believed, which again, lead to more people being hung.
Abigail Williams by far has the most guilt in the witch trials. Everything that Abigail said was untrue. She even told Proctor that Betty had just “gone silly somehow” (Miller 21). She just did this to try and get Proctor to love her, or admit that he loved her, because she already believes that he does. Everything that happened was because of the dancing in the forest, which was instigated by Abigail, because she wanted Tituba to make a potion that would kill Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth. It is all Abigail’s fault, if she had never done or said anything, nothing would have ever happened. She is the person who started it all, and she could have ended it all. All she had to do was say they were faking it, or just say the devil had left, and everything would have been over. Abigail is the person who is the most responsible for the Salem witch trials.
The guilt lies in the hands of Abigail Williams, John Proctor and Reverend Parris. Abigail was the instigator of it all. She could have stopped everything at anytime, but she was too delusional about the love that she thought she and John Proctor had. John Proctor knew the entire time that it was all sport. All he had to do was tell someone, and it all would have stopped. Reverend Parris could have stopped it all before it started. All he had to say that the devil was not in Salem, and not call Reverend Hale. Everything that happened in Salem could have been stopped at anytime, but no one did stop it. There is enough guilt in Salem to go around to all the people, but it mainly lies in the hands of Abigail, Proctor and Parris.