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Most of the characters from The Crucible, which include townspeople from Salem, judges, and reverends, existed in historical accounts of the 1692 trials. With the exception of Abigail, a manipulator, their goodness and wickedness is measured based on how little or how much they abide by the dogmas imposed in their community.
Reverend Samuel Parris
Reverend Parris is a widower in his mid-forties who places great value on his reputation. He is more concerned about what his daughter's illness would do to his status as a town's minister than her actual ailment. A repressive, insecure, vain, and paranoid man, he quickly supports the authorities when the witch trials begin. He is the uncle of Abigail Williams, whom he brought into his house after her parents were viciously slain.
Betty Parris is the minister's 10-year-old daughter, who has been caught dancing in the woods. At first, we see her bedridden due to an unspecified illness. Guilt-ridden and fearful of what may happen to her, she accuses others of being witches to cast blame elsewhere.
Tituba is the slave of the Parris household, hailing from the Barbados. A “conjurer” who has expertise in herbs, she is thought to be the cause of Betty Parris' “illness” and is the first to be accused of witchcraft once mass hysteria takes over the townspeople.
The antagonist of the play, Abigail Williams is Reverend Parris' beautiful 17-year-old orphaned niece who lives with his family. She previously served the Proctor household, where she seduced John Proctor. Abigail starts the fire of the witch hunt in order to frame Elizabeth Proctor as a witch so that she can claim John Proctor as her man. She leads the girls in their accusations in court against some of the most well-respected and good townspeople, and resorts to hysterics to manipulate the jury during the trial.
Mrs. Ann Putnam
Ann Putnam, the wife of Thomas Putnam, is “a twisted soul of forty-five.” Seven of her children have died in infancy, and, out of sheer ignorance, she blames their death on a murdering witch.
Thomas Putnam is nearly 50, the oldest son of the town's richest man, and highly vindictive. He is a prime example of evil in the village, believing himself superior to most and looking for revenge for past grievances. He has attempted to use force to get his way in the past but has always failed. Deeply embittered, he accuses many of being witches, frequently is a witness against those accused, and has a daughter who at times leads the hysterical girls in the finger pointing.
Mary Warren is the Proctor Family's servant. She is weak and impressionable, which, at first, leads her to blindly admire Abigail's strength, following her commands. She gifts Elizabeth Proctor a “poppet” with a needle in the abdomen, which will be used against Mrs. Proctor during the trials. John Proctor manages to convince her to admit to having lied about their “supernatural experiences” that have resulted in the arrest of many innocents. Yet, Mary's confession comes to nothing, as Abigail, in turn, accuses her of witchcraft. This leads Mary to renounce her confession and, subsequently, to accuse Proctor of forcing her to make it.
A well-respected, strong Salem farmer, John Proctor is the main protagonist of the play. He is independent-minded, which emerges in actions such as working on his farm during the Sabbath and refusing to have his youngest son baptized by a minister he is in disagreement with. He was seduced by Abigail when she was a servant at his farm, and this secret plagues him with guilt. He is a character with a strong sense of self, and often questions the dogmatic authority of the theocracy Salem lives under. This fully emerges in his final act, where he refuses to formalize his sham confession.
Rebecca Nurse is the ultimate good, religious community member. She takes on a near godlike aura when she first appears onstage and quiets a troubled child merely by her loving, calm presence. Hale says she looks “as such a good soul should,” but this does not spare her from dying by hanging.
Giles Corey is the local “crank and a nuisance” who is constantly blamed for numerous things that go wrong in the town but is not guilty. Corey is independent and brave, and he has a lot of knowledge by experience, such as knowing how trials operate due to having been in court multiple times. He claims that the witch trials are orchestrated just so that the land of those found guilty can be seized, and brings evidence to court, albeit refusing to name his sources. Eventually he dies by pressing, refusing to answer “aye or naye” to the interrogators.
Reverend John Hale
Reverend John Hale comes from a nearby town and is the recognized authority on witchcraft. He relies on knowledge coming from books, which, he believes hold all the answers. While at the beginning of the play he speaks with conviction about his knowledge, saying things like “the Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone,” he does possess intuition that goes beyond what he was taught: he recognizes Rebecca, even though he had never seen her before, as being “as such a good soul should,” and about Abigail he says “This girl has always struck me false”. By the end of the play, he learns the wisdom coming from doubting dogma.
Elizabeth is one of the most upright members of the community, but she is more complex than a stereotype of goodness. At the beginning of the play, she is the aggrieved wife of John Proctor, but, by the end of the play, she becomes more loving and understanding of her husband. Abigail wants to frame her for witchcraft: after piercing her own abdomen with a needle, she falsely accuses Elizabeth of having pierced the abdomen of a witch's "poppet" doll with a needle in order to torment her, an accusation of witchcraft. This event leads many in the community to find other reasons to suspect Elizabeth Proctor.
Judge Hathorne is one of the officials sent to question the accused witches. He acts as a foil for Proctor and the upright citizens. He is concerned more with wielding his power than true justice, and blindly believes in Abigail's machinations.
Judge Thomas Danforth
Thomas Danforth is the chief judge of the court, and views the proceedings as a pretext to cement his power and influence, eagerly convicting anyone brought before him. He refuses to suspend the trials even as they tear Salem apart. Near the end of the play, Abigail has run away with Parris' life savings and many other lives have been ruined, yet Danforth still cannot agree that the trials were a sham. He remains firm in his conviction that the condemned should not be executed. When John refuses to let him post his confession in town, Danforth sends him away to be hanged. Miller claims he is the true villain of the play.