This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at character. The characters in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, are based on historical figures who lived in Salem at the time of the famous trials for witchcraft. Despite their historical basis, and the fact that the characters share the same fates as their historical counterparts, these figures are fictional creations. It is important to remember that we are reading fiction when we read The Crucible and to discuss each character as we would any other fictional character.
The play presents several figures of authority, some of whom come from outside the town, such as Reverend Hale and Deputy Governor Danforth, and others, such as Reverend Parris, who are from Salem. The accusers are for the most part young women, including Abigail Williams, Mary Warren, Mercy Lewis and Susanna Walcott.
Mr. and Mrs. Putnam play key roles in whipping up the hysteria which eventually endangers the lives of Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good and Tituba. Other key figures include Cheever, Marshal Herrick and Hopkins, all involved in the arrests and detentions of the accused.
Because this text is a play, we primarily understand these characters through their dialogue and behaviour. Miller also includes some explanation for their behaviour, or sometimes some background information which the reader should take into account. This is useful and can help actors know how to play their roles, but the information is not otherwise available to an audience watching the play in performance.
Pay attention to how each character interacts with others. Whose behaviour changes in different company? What do we learn when we see Proctor and Hale talking together at different points in the drama? How is Abigail’s character revealed? Who changes over the course of the play and how?
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in The Crucible.