Tituba is a special character in Miller’s play. He is the only black individual in the entire town of Salem and a slave to Reverend Parris. She hails from Barbados, and within the play, she is individualized in terms of her place of origin, dialect and skin complexion to demonstrate how someone’s uniqueness can be subverted and exploited for purposes of creating fear.
The author characterizes the prejudged differences between whites and blacks. However, despite the racial subjugation she faces, she still wields a unique kind of power over the Salem community.
She can perform voodoo, an act that nobody else can perform. This gives her a position unpatched by any other character in the Crucible. She is also the only character originating from outside New England and the only one with a single name. Nevertheless, she has no particular vendetta against any character in the play. Tituba stays largely invisible, and her voice remains silent due to her low social status.
Despite being a minor character, she gained notoriety in this Puritan society. It was believed that she was the one who performed the actual rituals of witchcraft under the request of whoever wanted to bewitch another person. When Reverend Parris walks in on Abigail, Betty and the other girls dancing amid the forest at midnight, he claims he witnessed Tituba waving her hands over flames. This was immediately perceived to be an act of witchcraft.
For this reason, she has become responsible for this superstitious belief. Many residents of Salem have thus been executed due to the witch trials, and their families offered exoneration and restitution. She is associated with the injustice and the horror frenzy that occurred in the town.
Even before Tituba admits that the devil himself brought him many witches, she had long been associated with evil in Salem owing to her skin’s complexion.
Since her racial background already bears connotations of Satan, her testimony does not surprise anybody. This is in sharp contrast to the confessions made by most of the white characters who were charged with indulging in witchcraft. Tituba also seems to buy into the reality of her racial discrimination. By condemning her black color, she can offload part of the blame onto the whites she has accused.
Even though Reverend Parris and company suspect her of witchcraft, her revelations to her neighbors are more astonishing. While describing the encounter she had with the devil, she describes the night as “black dark.” This was meant to showcase how her blackness portrays evil throughout the play.
In some records of her testimony, the devil is described as a tall man who comes from Boston and adorns in black attire and has white hair. The description describes Reverend Parris as well as the leadership of the church.
The play demonstrates how witchcraft, that is associated with blackness exists merely through association. On the contrary, the despicable deeds of people who accuse and have their neighbors killed portray how they can easily be associated with the purity and whiteness of the puritan community.
Therefore, Tituba’s blackness, in addition to the association of witchcraft with blacks offers her great power. However, this power has been relegated to the background and is unable to defeat the confines of the puritan racial hierarchy and legal system that engulf as well as antagonize her with the community. For a moment, she becomes powerful by making witchcraft allegations. This makes her particularly useful to the girls for a short time. After that, these girls take her power and start making their accusations.