Static and Dynamic Characters of The Crucible
The Crucible is a play about the Salem witch trials. Its main characters are richly developed and varied. They consist of a Reverend and his niece; a married couple with their share of problems, along with their servant; and a minister called to the town because of his experience in the field of witchcraft. Each of these characters mentioned have their own traits that they bring to the plot of the story. When examined closely they can each be classified as either static or dynamic by the way their characteristics develop throughout the tale.
Reverend Parris is a minister in the town of Salem. As a very static character, his characteristics, for the most part, remain the same. In the introduction to the play, Parris is told to have “very little good to be said for him.” This shows as Miller presents him a somewhat a villain. He is set from the beginning to prove that his daughter and niece are not involved in witchcraft. After he catches them dancing around a fire in the woods, he is very concerned with what this will reflect upon their name and, more importantly, his name. When it is suggested that he go to the parlor and talk to the people of the town, he responds, “And what shall I say to them? That my daughter and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest?” The fact that he refers to them as “my daughter and my niece” shows that it is his reputation that he is worried about. This obsession with keeping his name clean is shown again towards the end of the play when John Proctor tells the court of the girls dancing in the woods. Parris immediately says, “Excellency, since I come to Salem this man is blackening my name.” This proves that over the course of most of the story, he keeps the same values (or lack there of). It is not until his niece flees from Salem with all of his money that he seems to change. One may perceive this as not a true change; it’s just him realizing that being penniless and no longer having his niece’s power over the court to hide behind, he should change to benefit himself and his social status. Another theory may be that he starts to feel guilty for supporting a niece whose decisions have led to so many deaths; but still this would not be a change of character, just a change of conscience.
The niece of Reverend Parris, Abigail Williams, is also a static character with traits much like those of her uncle. Making the first accusation of the Salem witch trials, she from then on feels no remorse for her actions. During the ritual she was doing in the woods, she drank pig’s blood with the intent of killing Elizabeth Proctor. She did this because of her love, which could be better categorized as obsession, for John Proctor with whom she had an affair. Abigail seems to not care how many people die in order to reach her “prize”. After it is discovered that her cousin cannot wake, she approaches John about their affair. During their conversation, she shows her obsession for him by saying admitting, “I cannot sleep for dreamin’; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you comin’ through some door.” She shows the same obsession later when she accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft. She does tell John that she regrets starting the trials after he is accused, but one would think that this regret is simply because her full intent was to have John as hers and now he would rather face death than run away with her.
The fact that John would not leave with Abigail shows that his love for his wife and faith in God has grown throughout the play. When the trials first start, John is asked to recite his commandments and leaves out “Thou shall not commit adultery.” Still at this point he has not admitted to ever having an affair, even though Elizabeth already knows. After Elizabeth is accused, John becomes desperate to save her. He goes to the court and confesses to his and Abigail’s affair in an attempt to falsify her claims. He tells of how bad of a person he thinks he is, and of how he now knows that God sees everything one does. This illustrates how dynamic of a character John is. When he himself is accused, John is told to sign a paper confessing that he is a witch. He signs this paper in order to stay alive, but when he finds out that it will be posted for the entire town to see; he rips the paper and exclaims that he cannot let others see the paper “[b]ecause it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my