The Crucible - staandbdrama

“The Crucible”
Analysis of Major Characters
Major Characters
• In Act 1, “An Overture”, Miller presents a series of essays through
which he establishes the context of Setting: Time and Place and
Character. What Miller is writing in these “essays” is like extended
stage directions. Everything that is written is fundamental to any
understanding of the play as it is his (Miller’s) intention we know
the details given.
• All the information given is a textual clue as to how we would:
– interpret and play a character: acting and directing performance
– design the Mise-en-Scene or create individual designs: designer and
directorial performance concepts.
– create an overall directorial concept for the play.
• The essays and stage directions form important textual clues that
can be as useful and informative as the dialogue throughout.
John Proctor
John Proctor – Introductory Notes (p16)
Proctor was a farmer in his middle thirties. He need not have been a partisan of any
faction in the town, but there is evidence to suggest that he had a sharp and biting way
with hypocrites. He was a kind of man- powerful of body, even-tempered and not easily
led- who cannot refuse support to partisans without drawing their deepest resentment.
In Proctor’s presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly- and a Proctor is always
marked for calumny therefore.
But as we shall see, the steady manner he displays does not spring from an untroubled
soul. He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against
his own vision of decent conduct. These people had no ritual for the washing away of
sins. It is another trait we inherited from them, and it has helped to discipline us as well
as to breed hypocrisy among us. Proctor, respected and even feared in Salem, has come
to regard himself as a kind of fraud. But no hint of this has yet appeared on the surface
and as he enters from the crowded parlour below it is a man in his prime we see, with a
quiet confidence and an unexpressed, hidden force. Mary warren, his servant, can
barely speak for embarrassment and fear.
• From these notes we can find many clues as to the type of character John Proctor
is. This has relevance to the proceeding play as well as key information for an actor
playing John Proctor OR a director directing an actor to play John Proctor.
John Proctor – Stage Directions (1)
Strong, well built, strong upright posture, confident gait, strong presence
“…powerful of body”,”…in his prime…”, “…quiet confidence”, “…an unexpressed hidden force”
He is often a contradiction: Confident, even-tempered, arrogant, honest, brave, weak, quick
tempered (with those he considers fools)
“…quiet confidence…”, “…even- tempered…”, “…a sharp and biting way with hypocrites…”, “…as
he enters from the crowded parlour below…”
Pride, high moral integrity, guilty conscience, sinner, cowardice, masculinity, hot bloodedness,
disbelief in witches, individual, mistrusting, protective, kind“…a sinner…”, “against his own
vision of decent conduct.”,”…steady manner… not an untroubled soul…”, “regard himself as a
kind of fraud”
John Proctor – Stage Directions (2)
Main Objective:
To clear his conscience of guilt, to cleans his own name.
“…the steady manner he displays does not spring from an untroubled soul. He is a sinner…
against his own vision of decent conduct. …no ritual for the washing away of sins.”
Communication of dramatic message, representative of main themes, representative of
Social context (SET) and (WRITTEN), Generator (not always intentionally) of conflict, catalyst
for igniting plot, representative of tragedy, responsible for final climax, determines fate of
the theocracy, to represent what happens when one is brave enough to speak openly against
the church and state (theocracy)
Occupation: Farmer.
Motivation: His high sense of moral integrity and the protection of his name and reputation.
Status: Low in his own opinion, high in terms of the rest of Salem (the townspeople)
John Proctor – General Points
• A strong male role which becomes increasingly demanding as the play’s plot
unfolds. The actor has to be able to portray the subtleties and range of guilt, anger
and frustration, but should also be able to take the audience with him in terms of
support for the stand he has taken and a belief in his development. The character
uses a wide range of language which at times is blunt and down to earth, at times
full of imagery and sensuality; all of which means the actor has to have much
confidence and versatility. This is quite a physical and dynamic part.
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams – Stage Directions (1)
Abigail Williams: No notes are given for Abigail but Miller’s short stage direction at her
entrance is invaluable to a director, actress or student of “The Crucible”:
Abigail William, seventeen, enters- a strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an endless
capacity for dissembling. Now she is all worry and apprehension and propriety.”
Dissembling: To disguise or conceal behind a false appearance
Abigail Williams – Stage Directions (2)
In the opening scene Abigail is established as a controlling and central
character in “The Crucible”. In the first 6 pages she has little dialogue yet
Miller gives her more stage directions than any other character:
P6 : “..worry, apprehension and propriety.”
P7 : “(quavering as she sits)”
P8 : “(lowers her eyes)”
P8 : “(she is silent)”
P8 : “(innocently)”
P8 : “(in terror)”
P9: “(with an edge of resentment)”
P9: “(With ill- concealed resentment at him)”
P9: “(in a temper)”
P12: “(whispering)”
P14: “(with hushed trepidation)”
P14: “(…with fear in her voice…shakes her)”
P15: “(…furiously shakes her)”
P16: “(…cautiously approaches)”
P16: “(smashes her across the face)”
P16: “(stares in fright)”
P17: “(both afraid of him, strangely titillated)”
P17: “(Since proctor’s entrance Abigail has stood
as though on tiptoe, absorbing his presence,
P17: “(with a nervous laugh)”
P17: “(Winningly she comes a little closer, with a
confidential, wicked air.)”
P17: “(A thrill of expectant laughter escapes her,
and she dares come closer, feverishly looking
into his eyes)”
P17: “(Her concentrated desire destroys his
P17: “(tauntingly)”
P17: “(now beginning to anger- she can’t believe
P18: “(now softening)”
P18: “(with a flash of anger)”
Abigail Williams – General Notes (1)
Physically: Beautiful, sensual, her presence is felt or not depending on the
situation (gait, posture, body language etc follow suit)
Personality: Domineering, flirtatious, worldly wise, spiteful, passionate, freespirit,
Characteristics: She has a short fuse, manipulative, rebellious, liar, violent,
traumatic past, dishonest, bitter
Themes representative of: Abuse of power, hysteria, individual in society (she
challenges authority but for very different reasons to John)
Main Objective: To gain John Proctor for herself.
Purpose: Catalyst for creating events in the forest, main accuser, generator of
hysteria, generator of conflict, representative of main themes, highlights
John Proctor’s fatal flaws, is responsible for creating the tragedy that befalls
Salem, partly responsible for creating the witch hunt.
Motivation: To protect her name, survive and her lust for John Proctor.
Occupation: Was a servant.
Status: Low in the town ,her name is somewhat tarnished, she is female and
seventeen. High with the girls, she is their leader and controls them.
Abigail Williams – General Notes (2)
• This has to be one of the most exciting, complex and demanding
roles for any young actor to play. Abigail is an attractive, sexual
and manipulative character. A very strong and challenging
female role. She provides a focus for the central concerns of the
play. The actor playing the part of Abigail has to create a wide
range of emotions, even in very short scenes showing both
violent cruelty and personal charm co-existing. A rebel who is
sexually aware. Has to concentrate and think all the time on
stage, particularly when the focus of the dialogue is not directly
on her.
Reverend Parris
Reverend Parris – Introductory Notes (p16)
“At the time of these events Parris was in his middle forties. In history he cut a
villainous path, and there is very little good to be said for him. He believed he was
being persecuted wherever he went, despite his best efforts to win people and God to
his side. In meetings, he felt insulted if someone rose to shut the door without first
asking his permission. He was a widower with no interest in children or talent with
them. He regarded them as young adults and until this strange crisis he, like the rest of
Salem, never conceived that the children where anything but thankful for being
permitted to walk straight, eyes slightly lowered, arms at the sides and mouths shut
until bidden to speak.
His house stood in the ‘town’ – but we today would hardly call it a village. The meeting
house was nearby and from this point outward – toward the bay or inland – there were
a few small- windowed, dark houses snuggling against the raw Massachusetts winter.”
Reverend Parris
Physically: in his forties, sly/ scathing facial expressions, upright posture, air of
importance, thin, cold expressions, defiant/ dismissive gestures to those he
disregards, meek/ pleasing gestures to those he needs, tall, looks “weathered” (his
worries, discontent and paranoia have aged him)
Personality: Cold, weak, paranoid, selfish, greedy, un fatherly.
Characteristics: Full of self importance, easily controlled, considers himself to be
misunderstood, uses God to further his position/ for his own gain, bows to
authority, hostile towards those who are reviled by him
Themes representative of: Abuse of Power, Hysteria, Theocracy
Reverend Parris
Main Objective: To keep his status high in the town
Purpose: To represent main themes, to accuse others to save himself, representative
of a friendly witness (CONTEXT WRITTEN), To uphold the theocracy, to rid Salem of
the devil, to be weak in the face of authority.
Status: High in the town. He is the reverend and therefore he speaks God’s word. Low
with some Salemites as they see through his falsity to his greed and corruption, he
is distant from them
Motivation: his sense of status and fear of individualism.
Occupation: Minister of Salem
Reverend Parris – General Points
• This can be a tricky part to play. The character can be seen as an outright villain or
as a figure of ridicule. This is an obsessive character, almost stiff and unbending,
driven by an awareness of his political position as well as a desire to keep the
community together spiritually. At the beginning of the play, the fight for survival is
very real for Parris and the actor must avoid patronising this character, because
that could undermine the argument of the play. He is not a likeable character and
often speaks as if he is in the pulpit. The actor playing this part will need to have a
deep understanding of the character’s motivation.
Reverend Hale
Reverend Hale – Introductory Notes (p26)
“ Mr Hale is nearly forty, a tight- skinned, eager- eyed intellectual. This is a
beloved errand for him; on being called here to ascertain witchcraft he felt the
pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called
for. Like almost all men of learning, he spent a good deal of his time pondering
the invisible world, especially since he had himself encountered a witch in his
parish not long before. That woman, however, turned into a mere pest under
his searching scrutiny and the child she has allegedly been afflicting recovered
her normal behaviour after Hale had given her his kindness and a few days of
rest in his own house. However, that experience never raised a doubt in his
mind as to the reality of the underworld or the existence of Lucifer’s manyfaced lieutenants. And his belief is not to his discredit. Better minds than Hale’s
were-and still are- convinced that there is a society of spirits beyond our ken.
One cannot help noting that one of his lines has never raised a laugh in any
audience that has seen this play; it is in his assurance that ‘We cannot look to
superstition in this. The devil is precise.’ Evidently we are not quite certain even
now whether diabolism is holy and not to be scoffed at. And it is no accident
that we should be so bemused….
Reverend Hale – Introductory Notes (p26)
… Coming into Salem now, Revered Hale conceives of himself much as a young
doctor on his first call. His painfully acquired armoury of symptoms,
catchwords, and diagnostic procedures and now to be put to use at last. The
road from Beverly is unusually busy this morning and he has passed a hundred
rumours that make him smile at the ignorance of the yeomanry in this most
precise science. He feels himself allied with the best minds of Europe-kings,
philosophers, scientists and ecclesiasts of all churches. His goal, is light,
goodness and its preservation and he knows the exaltation of the blessed
whose intelligence, sharpened by minute examinations of enormous tracts, is
finally called upon to face what may be a bloody fight wit the fiend himself.”
Reverend Hale
Physically: late 30’s (38 or 39), appears youthful, quick paced, careful tread, swift gait,
kind; thoughtful; sincere and serious facial expressions, strong.
Personality: Intense, passionate, well read, well meaning, God fearing, a man of
conscience, suspicious, guilty becomes direct, becomes very self assured as he tries
to amend his wrong doings by committing a sin.
Characteristics: well intentioned but somewhat naive, seeks to do the best for God,
considers himself very intelligent, he is proud of his knowledge: like John Proctor
this will cause him to fall, troubled once he realises there are doubts, allows his
faith to cloud his better judgement (leading to the tragedy), becomes a broken man
Theme representative of: Hysteria, Abuse of Power (unwittingly), Theocracy.
Reverend Hale
Main Objective: To rid Salem of the devil: to find the truth
Purpose: To act rashly and generate initial accusations and Hysteria, to represent a
main theme, to challenge the court (therefore highlighting its overwhelming power
and corruption), to represent doubt
Status: High on arrival, soon usurped by Danforth’ s arrival.
Motivation: To do God’s work and help people
Occupation: Reverend, specialist in demonology
Reverend Hale – General Points
• Hale begins as an optimistic and eager character, full of confidence
and joy in his knowledge and faith. By the second act he is chastened
by the growing number of accused and, by the end of the play, he has
to appear tortured and incompletely broken man, physically
exhausted, with his faith shattered. The actor playing the part of Hale
must be careful not to make him appear a figure of fun. He will
irritate and frustrate but ultimately hold our pity, as he makes some
attempt to right the wrong. This character feels great responsibility
for his actions and wants to achieve good.
Deputy-Governor Danforth
Danforth – Introductory Direction (p68)
Enter Deputy- Governor Danforth and behind him, Ezekiel Cheever and
Parris. On his appearance, silence falls. Danforth is a grave man in his
sixties, of some humour and sophistication that does not, however,
interfere with an exact loyalty to his position and his cause. He comes
down to Giles, who awaits his wrath.
Deputy-Governor Danforth
Physically: Looks older but sophisticated, in his sixties, wrinkled yet alert and
contemplative, slow, careful looks and gestures, composed, stern, makes
continuous eye- contact, perfectly presented
Personality: Blinkered, harsh, self-assured, confident, egotistical
Characteristics: Full of his own achievements, proud, intellectual, ambitious,
Themes representative of: Abuse of Power, Theocracy
Deputy-Governor Danforth
Objective: To punish those named as witches and bring society back into line
Purpose: represents main authority, generator of conflict (particularly with
John Proctor), personifies the theocracy, representative of context
(WRITTEN): he is a parallel of Senator Joseph McCarthy, is the
personification of power, which the common man cannot challenge, allows
ambition to cloud his sense of right and wrong
Motivation: His sense of pride and achievement: the betterment of his name/
the raising of his status, the preservation of his position
Status: High
Occupation: Deputy Governor of the Province (New England)
Deputy-Governor Danforth
A cold, cruel and calculating character. However, the scene at the end of Act
Four with Proctor shows some measure of panic and anger in his frustration at
John’s actions. The role can be challenging because it has to strike a balance:
between how this man presents himself to the public and his intentions to
protect the theocracy and his own political ambitions. A figure of authority, but
also a figure of corruption.
Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor
Physically: quite plain but nonetheless still attractive, slim? (she has
been ill)
Personality: subservient but strong when necessary, quiet, motherly,
cold, withdrawn
Characteristics: religious, pious, victim “she frightened all my strengh
away”, defiant “I see what I see John” this contrast in Elizabeth
makes her a far more complex character then she first appears.
Themes representative of: individual in society, (victim of) abuse of
power, (victim of) hysteria
Elizabeth Proctor
Purpose: representative of main themes, generator of conflict, creates a
turning point in John’s decision-making process, builds mini and main climax
Motivation: to regain her dignity and the love of her husband
Main Objective: to keep her family together, to have her old way of life back:
to have harmony in her relationship with John and feel like she pleases him.
Status: High (but in terms of the patriarchal society fairly low) as she is a
mother and a central character.
Occupation: housewife and mother
Elizabeth Proctor
A challenging female role. The actor playing the part of Elizabeth has to
ensure that, in the relatively short time she appears on stage, she
creates a character that the audience will believe has undergone quite
radical self development. Within the coldness and rigidity of her nature
there have to be glimmers of potential warmth towards her husband,
since what saves her from hanging is the discovery of her pregnancy.
The actor playing this part has to achieve a fine balance between the
‘goodness’ of Elizabeth and her realization that the passion she feels for
her husband is reciprocated. She has to show control, but there are also
moments, when she is arguing with her husband, that reveal her
determination and assertiveness. There are also moments when she
strives to hold on to her dignity in the face of great fear.

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