Many english teachers and theater directors around the world know of the play named The Crucible. Written by Arthur Miller in 1952, The Crucible is set in Salem in the year 1692-93. The play tells the story of a town that descends into madness as scores of its members are charged with the hanging offense of witchcraft, and convicted by the court through a group of girls. The girls had been found dancing and carrying on in the woods near the town, and created the witchcraft story to protect themselves; however, It quickly escalates out of hand. The girls, chief amongst whom is Abigail Williams, begin to change as the play progresses, Abigail herself most of all.
Abigail Williams is an unmarried orphan who, as a child, watched as her parents were murdered by Indians. As an orphan, she ranks low on the Puritan Salem’s social ladder, with the only people under her being slaves and social outcasts. In the beginning of the play, Abigail Williams is shown to be an average orphan girl, with just a little bit of an extreme side to her personality. But as the play progresses the lies deepen, the guilt begins to take hold, and her true character is revealed: at heart, she is a very manipulative, seductive, and dishonest person. Abigail becomes a vengeful, deceitful girl, and in an attempt to protect herself from punishment and to achieve her heart’s lustful desires of replacing Elizabeth as John Proctor’s wife, instigates the Salem witch trials and uses her power of intimidation over the other girls to condemn innocent people. She is constantly caught up in a lie or is in the process of trying to manipulate someone. As the antagonist, she shows her true colors by stopping at nothing to attain her goals. Although, in the end, Abigail’s persuasive lies do not get her what she really wants, her actions throughout the play influence many events and make her the most compelling character of The Crucible. Throughout the play, Abigail speaks using deceitful language in her constant quest for power. The audience’s first introduction to her true nature is in Act I when she says “…Let either of you breathe a word and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you…”
Abigail’s desperation and disturbed mind starts to be revealed when she tries to control the mistake she has made. To control the mistake she must control those around her who know of it. Abigail feeds on the fact that no one would dare expose her if they feared her so terribly. Abigail’s desire for power and her willingness to deceive anyone to get what she wants also foreshadows her actions. Abigail lies in Act I when Reverend Parris confronts her after finding her and other girls dancing in the woods and practicing witchcraft with Tituba. In the town of Salem, Abigail’s reputation is already somewhat flawed, and when Parris asks her, “Your name in the town – it is entirely white, is it not,” Abigail answers “I am sure it is, sir. There be no blush about my name.” Abigail’s response was clearly another lie because she was fired as the Proctor’s servant after Elizabeth discovered her affair with John.
Abigail is constantly caught up in a lie or is in the process of trying to manipulate someone. As the antagonist, she shows her true colors by stopping at nothing to attain her goals. Even though Abigail’s persuasive lies don’t end up accomplishing her initial goal, her actions throughout the play influence many events and make her the most compelling character of The Crucible. Unlike the other characters, she shows an extreme level of change throughout the duration of the play and is the undisputed villain of the play. Her motivation is simple jealousy and her desire to be with John Proctor, but her cruel nature, however, is due partially to past trauma. The witch trials, in which the girls are allowed to act as though they have a direct connection to God, empower the previously powerless Abigail.
Once criticised by the pious citizens of Salem, Abigail now finds that she has immense authority, and takes full advantage of it. Many of the events in The Crucible, in some way or another, have to deal with Abigail or occur as a result of something that she did; therefore, she is the most memorable character of the play. Even when Abigail leaves town for Barbados when she hears of rebellion against the court and John Proctor is sentenced to hang, her previous actions still have a colossal effect on the countless townspeople that she accused. Although, in the end, Abigail’s persuasive lies do not get her what she really wants, her actions throughout the play influence many events and make her the most compelling character of The Crucible.
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