Who Was Marshal Herrick?
Marshal Herrick is the Marshall of Salem in Arthur Miller’s 1953 play “The Crucible.” Marshall Herrick is a minor character in the play tasked with arresting the accused witches of Salem. Herrick’s most well-known appearance is when he arrests John Proctor’s wife Elizabeth for practicing witchcraft.
The plot of “The Crucible” is driven by the actions of a group of young unmarried girls, led by the Salem minister’s niece, Abigail Williams. The protagonist of the story, John Proctor, has an affair with Abigail before the plot of the play begins. Abigail becomes jealous of Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, which leads to her false accusations of witchcraft. Proctor is unwilling at first to denounce Abigail as a fraud because he is afraid of tarnishing his reputation by admitting to committing adultery.
Proctor’s indecisiveness allows Abigail and her followers to whip the town of Salem into a religious frenzy as the girls accuse one person after another of being a witch. By the time Abigail accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft, 39 people have been accused and have either been hanged or imprisoned under these false accusations. In an effort to save his wife, Proctor confesses to committing adultery with Abigail. However, the situation has already spiraled too far out of control and no one believes Proctor’s claims. By the end of the story, Proctor is forced to “admit” to practicing witchcraft and he is hanged.