In Arthur Millers play, The Crucible, you can easily uncover the effects of three main characters guilt. You can clearly see as the story unfolds that John Proctor, Elizabeth Procter and John Hale all are very much affected by their overwhelming guilt. Each has different causes for their guilty consciences and certainly different outcomes. Throughout this analysis I will discuss those three characters and go in depth on how their guilt drove them to their deaths and unfulfilled futures. John Proctors guilt is most clearly displayed when Hale asks him to recite the commandments and he leaves out adultery. There is no doubt that Proctor lives with his overwhelming guilty conscience, for cheating on Elizabeth, every day. It is especially hard since it always seems to be the elephant in the room. You can see the effects of Proctors guilt throughout the story from his being forgetful of the commandments, to admitting to the adultery in court, and being sentenced to jail. He believes he is damaged in the eyes of God, another effect of his guilt, which is displayed when he’s leaving the courtroom and says “God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!”
I believe his guilt was a strong deciding factor in his refusal of a confession, to being involved with the Devil, that lead him to be sentenced to death. Elizabeth Proctors guilt carries with her until the end of the play. She believes she is the reason John committed adultery. She feels her busyness and indissoluble focus on the children drove John into Abigail’s welcoming arms. This guilt is what prompts Elizabeth to lie for John when asked about his adultery. She feels as though he should not be punished for a sin she is guilty of driving him to commit. She sits in jail with this guilt and lets it build until she finally opens up to John about it in Act 4 before he is to be hung. Elizabeth somewhat cleared herself of her guilty conscience by finally forgiving John for his adultery and begging for his forgiveness in return. Last but not least, John Hales vast guilt. Hales guilt about partaking in a justice system to take down innocent people, all on the accusations made by a manipulative Abigail, is what makes up a great part of his guilty conscience. He is the reason behind the death of many innocent people. His guilt changes him for the better and he becomes a more caring person.
He feels guilty on top of that for not being able to stop Danforth and his crooked court. His guilt drives him to fervently beg Elizabeth to persuade Proctor to sign his name and admit to working with the Devil so his life will be spared. He does so by saying, “Life, woman, if God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess. Let him give his lie.” Hale doesn’t want more innocent people to hang due to his witchcraft investigations based on false accusations. The guilt Hale has on his conscience about ever being apart of such gruesome acts of taking innocent peoples lives affects him a great deal. In Conclusion, the effects of guilt on a person are displayed many times in The Crucible. You can see such guilt in John Proctors conscience, for committing adultery and going against God and his puritan beliefs. You can also see it in Elizabeth Proctor when it drives her to beg for forgiveness from John for her part in leading him to sin. Guilt can also very much be seen in Reverend Hale when he starts to realize the accusations circulating through Salem were in fact false and the people he had helped the court sentence didn’t deserve such punishments and death. As you can see this play was filled with sins and guilt.