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The Hypocrisy Of Characters In The Crucible

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In the play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the story unfolds with a town named Salem. This town follows the Bible strictly and anyone who disobeys the rules of the Bible will be put in jail or will be hanged. Since, the town heavily relies on the Bible; dancing and any other activity that is not religious is being considered as sinful. One day a group of girls: Betty, Abigail Williams and Mary Warren were in the forest doing witchcraft. However, despite trying to prove they were not doing any witchcraft, The girls start claiming that other women are beguile. Thus leading to the deaths of many innocent women. Throughout the play, Arthur Miller is trying to show that not everyone is who they seem to be and those who may seem innocent can cause the world to turn upside down. One way Arthur Miller tries to show the negative effects of the Salem Witch Trials is by writing about hypocrisy. One paradox that is consistent throughout the play is about hypocrisy between the characters: Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris, and Hale.

Arthur Miller shows the hypocrisy through the character Abigail Williams. Abigail Williams is an orphan. Her parents death happens due to an attack by American Indians and since then she has been living with her uncle’s family. Abigail Williams and other girls are being blamed for doing witchcraft when they are are found with Tituba in the forest. However, to defend themselves, they are accusing Tituba of setting her spirits among them and confessing that they are working for the devil. To prove her innocence she states that “[she] want the light of God, [she] want the sweet love of Jesus! ….. [She] saw Sarah Good with the Devil! [She] saw Goody Osborn with the Devil! [She] saw Bridgit Bishop with the Devil!” (Miller 45). This is hypocrisy because when Abigail states “[she] wants the light of God”, she wants to purify herself. However she is doing the opposite because the accusation she is making will lead to the death of many innocent people. Moreover, by stating “[she] saw Sarah Good with the Devil…Goody Osborn… [and] Bridgit Bishop..” causes destructive influence because by stating the first few people that comes into her mind pushes other girls to do the same because by confessing they are saving their own life. This is similar to society today because when an individual gets into trouble and try to prevent themselves from getting into trouble. That certain individual starts panicking and states the first few names that come into their minds. Which causes other people to get in trouble. Additionally, Abigail Williams is having an affair with John Proctor but no one in the town knows about it. Abigail states“[she] never knew what pretense Salem was, [she] never knew the lying lessons [she is being] taught by all these Christian women and their [covenant] men!…John Proctor [loves her] , and whatever sin it is, [he] love[s] [her] yet!” (Miller 22). Abigail states she “never knew what pretense Salem [is]”. This is hypocrisy because she is the one who is causing the pretense in Salem, which are the Salem Witch Trials. This is a destructive influence because she is causing innocent lives to be taken. Furthermore, Abigail states “whatever sin it is, [he] love[s] me yet!”. By stating this, it shows that Abigail will do any sin to be with John. Also, by insisting him to be with her; adds upon her sins which will ruin her name. This is hypocritical because she wants to have a “white name” in Salem. Moreover, this is destructive influence because Abigail wants John Proctor to be in love with her. Even though it is clear that she is the antagonist in the play, there are many other characters who show the hypocrisy and how destructive it can be.

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Another character that shows the hypocrisy is Reverend Parris. Reverend Parris is a minister in the town of Salem. He has a daughter, named Betty, and a niece named Abigail Williams. Reverend Parris is hypocritical because he barely mentions God during preaches. Proctor states that “Parris came and for twenty [weeks] he preach[es] nothin’ but golden candlesticks until he ha[s] them. … when [he] look[s] to heaven and see[s] [is] money glaring at his elbows — it hurt[s] [his] prayer,…” (Miller 62). This shows hypocrisy when Proctor mentions “Parris came and for twenty [weeks] he preach[es] nothin’” shows that Parris does not mention God during preaches. This is hypocritical because as Minister, his job is to mention God and bring people closer to God. Furthermore, when Proctor states “when [he] look[s] to heaven and see[s] [his] money glaring at his elbows — it hurt[s] [his] prayer,…” shows that Proctor has been investing money in the church and in Proctor. Moreover, Proctor wants a minister that mentions God during the preaches otherwise he is not worthy of the position. This relates to society as well because when someone invest in something, that individual wants something to change or make a difference. But if that change does not happen, the individual starts to lose interest. This is similar to what is happening with Proctor because he is investing in Proctor but if he barely mentions God then he has the right to question the minister. Additionally, Parris complains about his salary; “[he] want[s] a mark of confidence, is all! [He is the] third preacher in seven years. [He does] not wish to be put out like the cat whenever some majority feel the whim. [The] people seem not to comprehend that a minister is the Lord’s man in the parish; a minister is not to be so lightly [crossing] and [contradicting]—-” (Miller 28). This shows hypocrisy because Parris is a minister who shows lack of gratitude and is greedy. Furthermore, when Parris states “[he does] not wish to be put out like the cat whenever some majority feels the whim,” shows that Parris wants to be known as prestigeful. Moreover, when Proctor states “a minister is not to be so lightly [crossing] and [contradicting] shows that Proctor thinks highly of himself and thinks that whatever he is doing is right. He believes he should not be questionable.This is relatable to society today because the people in a higher position or social status tend to be intimidating. To add on, they believe they are more literate and should be respected. However, this makes a person selfish about him or herself. Similar to Proctor because he is a graduate from Harvard and thinks he is an intelligent person with a position that has nothing to do with intelligence. Many people like this are misleading because they believe that with their high status they can be arrogant. To add on, this leads to destructive influence as well because throughout the book Proctor tries to prove to others that he is in the highest position and that everyone should respect him. But, worrying about his status makes society hate him because he thinks he is a better person than everyone else and the purest.

Although Parris may seem like the only church member to be hypocritical. There is another member of the church, Hale who is hypocritical. Hale is a witch hunter and the one who writes executions. During the discussion about Mary Warren confessing that the accusations that were made by her and the group of girls are fake; Hale states “[he has] signed seventy-two death warrants; [he is] a minister of the Lord, and [he] dare[s] not take a life without there being a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of conscience may doubt it”(Miller 92). Hale shows hypocrisy because as “a minister of the Lord” he has to save lives. However, “[he has] signed seventy-two death warrants” this hypocrisy because those “seventy-two death warrants” were false accusations by Mary Warren and the rest of the girls. This is also destructive influence because the girls are accusing innocent women who are dying due to false accusations. Furthermore, when he states “[he] dare[s] not take a life without there being a proof” is another reason why Hale is hypocritical because Hale relies on spectral evidence and not hard-proof evidence. In addition, he relies on other members of the church. The reason why this is hypocritical is because spectral evidence is being based off of what the girls see. Furthermore, Hale is hypocritical because he believes the spectral evidence and not hard-proof evidence. To add on, this is destructive influence because Hale writes death warrants to innocent women who are claiming they are not witches. Furthermore, when Hale tells Elizabeth that Proctor will be executed he tells her,“[he] came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved,… where [he is turning] the eye of [his] great faith, blood [flowing] up. Beware, Goody Proctor – cleave to no faith when faith brings blood… life is God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. [Hale] beg[s] [her]…[to] prevail upon [her] husband[s] to confess. Let [Proctor] give his lie. Quail not before God’s judgment in this, for it may well be God damns a liar… (Miller 122). Hale is hypocritical in this quote because he tells Elizabeth “cleave to no faith when faith brings blood,” this is hypocritical because Hale joins the Christian faith as a “bridegroom to his beloved” and becomes a member of the church. But, now he goes against his Christian faith because he realizes how much “faith brings blood” when writing false accusations made by the girls. In addition, he tells Elizabeth to tell Proctor to lie, even if he knows “God damns a liar.” This is hypocrisy because Hale is supposed to help bring people closer to God. Furthermore, this is destructive influence because by telling Elizabeth to tell Proctor to lie, this adds upon his sins.

Hypocrisy is shown between the characters: Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris, and Hale. Abigail William is hypocritical because she does not follow the rules of the Salem trials. Parris is hypocritical because he is not a true minister of the town. Lastly, Hale is hypocritical because he chooses not to believe in faith even if he was new to Christianity and Salem. Furthermore, one thing society can all learn is that even those who may seem innocent and naive, may not be the person whom someone may think they are. They may either be nice to a person on one end and malevolent on the other. To add on, each individual should believe in what is right and think about situations realistically.

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The Hypocrisy Of Characters In The Crucible. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“The Hypocrisy Of Characters In The Crucible.” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022,
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