by Arthur Miller
Tools of Characterization
Abigail Williams and Thomas Putnam are clearly condemned by their actions of accusing people they wanted to get rid of for selfish reasons. Abigail accuses Elizabeth so that she can get John Proctor; Thomas Putnam influences his daughter to accuse George Jacobs so that he can get his hands on Jacobs’s land.
The narrator is not shy about telling us what we should think about characters. For example, we learn that the Reverend Parris “believed he was persecuted wherever he went” (I.4) and that Thomas Putnam “was a man with many grievances” (I.95) and a “vindictive nature” (I.97).
Though many characters believe they should be accorded respect and deference due to their social position (e.g., Reverend Parris, Judge Hathorne, Deputy Governor Danforth), it is actually the respect and reputation factor that really characterizes people like Rebecca. We learn to like Rebecca and believe she’s not a witch because she’s held in high regard and has been for many years, especially by other people we like, such as Elizabeth Proctor. Though the Reverend Parris is a minister, we learn that he isn't well respected in the community because he is greedy, materialistic, and preaches too much about hell. So we learn that he’s an unlikable character because of how others, like John Proctor, view him. In such a small, centralized town, one’s social position depends entirely on the way one is viewed by fellow citizens – and this is how we learn about most of the characters in the play.