The power of religion and fear is prominently displayed throughout The Crucible; the characters holding power of the court misuse it, and the motives of credible, honest, worthwhile characters are lost to lies and deceit. Out of all the characters in The Crucible, John Proctor and Reverend Hale are the most deserving of authority but receive very little, if any. The majority of the power is distributed between Danforth, Hathorne, Parris, and Abigail. The power and ability to decide innocence and guilt is given to those who can ask questions while evading answering any.
Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris avoid answering accusations and questions by charging the speaker with trying to undermine the church and therefore the entire theocracy of Salem. For example, in response to Proctor’s presentation of the list of people confirming the good character of the accused women, Parris says, “This is a clear attack upon the court!” (94). This shifts the blame from Parris and the rest of the court back on to John Proctor and his comrades.
In response to questions, Abigail plays the victim while accusing everyone else of which craft or consorting with witches. Abigail’s ability to avoid answering questions displays an abnormal amount of power for her age and position in society. In response to one of Danforth’s questions regarding whether or not Abigail and John Proctor had an affair, she replies, “If I must answer that, I will leave and not come back again ” (111). By this response, Abigail avoids having to answer the actual question, and displays the immense amount of power she holds in the court.
Finally, in act three, John Proctor and Reverend Hale are the only characters who make sacrifice in an attempt to shift power away from the corrupt members of the court, and to save those who were wrongly accused. Proctor admits to his private sin of adultery and lechery with Abigail in the hope of clearing his wife’s name and blackening Abigail’s. John Proctor confesses his indiscretion by saying “She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance, you must see it; I set myself entirely in your hands. You must see it now.” (110)
Reverend Hale denounces the church after...