The importance of the witch-trials is, according to Raymond Williams, that in them 'the moral crisis of a society is explicit, is directly enacted and stated, in such a way that the quality of the whole way of life is organically present and evident in the qualities of persons' (Drama from Ibsen to Brecht, 1968). ' But her warning is not heeded and a pandora's box is opened.
For Williams this is a dramatic device that enables the playwright to explore the evil forces in Salem society let loose by the revelation of witchcraft. We see the greed of Thomas Putnam; the quest for revenge on those who have wronged them, carried out by Martha Corey and Abigail Williams; Ann Putnam's jealousy of the fertile Rebecca Nurse and Abigail's jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor; the ambition of Hale and Parris, both of whom seek public approval; the fear of punishment that initially motivates Abigail and the other girls; then the revelling in power they display during the trial.
They believe that they make the right decisions and hesitate to accept any evidence which could have set innocents free.
It is evident from John Proctor’s case, as the delay in his confession makes him a liar in the court.
By this false model, Parris, the Putnams and the girls are all pure. We confuse the external show with the internal truth, and we get into the sort of nightmarish charade which The Crucible depicts, one repeated throughout history.
For example, in Nazi Germany, the rules said that all Jews were evil and Aryans good.
They are looking in the wrong place, chasing the wrong symptoms, prosecuting the supposedly wicked and leaving the genuinely bad untouched.
The false model of evil is something defined by a set of external rules- not going to church regularly, not knowing the commandments, cursing and living out of wedlock.
The prominent example is John Proctor, who hides his affair with Abigail.
He fears it will harm his reputation in the society.