Arthur Miller has written that he wants theatre audiences 'to heighten their awareness of what living in our time involves'. He achieves this in The Crucible (1953) by studying the mass hysteria of Salem in 1692 in order to comment on events in 1950s America. Miller is interested in causation – how the past contributes to the present predicament. In The Crucible in history, Miller looks back to the 1950s and reveals his thinking and sense of personal danger at a time when America was permeated by paranoia and suspicion, fearing Russian influence and control during the cold war.
Abigail in this act still in many ways the opposite of Elizabeth: she is worldly, opportunistic, vain, passionate and dominating- everything that Elizabeth is not. She is ambitious and has a clear lust for power, which she achieves when she is given a full hearing by the trials. Suddenly she finds she can control the densities of others, when previously she had been shunned for her suspected adulterous and wanton behaviour.
The fact she disappears from Salem with Mercy and Reverend Parris's money, leaving the chaos of the witch-hunt behind her, after effectively causing the deaths of 19 innocent people, illustrates her total lack of morality or concern for others. John Proctor is a strong character,'powerful of body, even-tempered and not easily led', whose guilt makes him indecisive until it is too late. In some ways he is a typical tragic hero, a good honest man with a secret, fatal flaw. A natural leader, he has the ability to organise opposition to the court.
John Proctor is independent-minded and a good Christian who allows his church going to be affected by his distaste for the greed and selfishness of Parris. He is an honest man who is undermined by one act of dishonesty: betraying his wife and concealing his guilt. He is obviously a passionate man and he sees himself as a sinner unworthy to follow in the footsteps of such martyrs as Rebecca and Giles. Finally, however, he realises that he cannot betray the others and still keep his integrity, so he welcomes the marvel that he has some goodness in himself.