Abigail is a desperate woman seeking her own benefits. She says everything that is necessary to others along with mockery even though it may hurt them. But the irony is, she does not like being hurt either. She is selfish and greedy. Although some people may argue that humans are greedy animals that do anything to gain their profits, there is always a limit to how far a person can go. For example, a person may love a person for their own benefit as long as they don’t intrude the other person’s rights.
But in this play, Abigail has gone over the limit. The play is based on a place called Salem where a lot of people were being accused of witchery at 1692. This particular passage is a scene where a young girl called Abigail is arguing with a farmer John Proctor over the fact if she had an affair with him or not. In this passage, Arthur Miller uses punctuation, diction and stage direction to show how Abigail is a selfish and greedy little girl seeking only her benefits.
Arthur Miller used punctuation to show how Abigail selfishly says anything she must although the listener does not like hearing her talk. Abigail was talking to Proctor how she had an affair with Proctor when he was already a married man. But Proctor did not want to talk about it and tried to avoid admitting the act he committed before. Abigail kept on projecting her voice and described how Proctor had passion during the act and enjoyed having an affair with Abigail.
However, Proctor did not like Abigail saying such things about him and replied “Abby, that’s a wild thing to say—”. The dash at the end signifies the sudden interruption as Abigail cut into the conversation, again, an act that shows how Abigail selfishly speaks only by herself and does not give a chance for the other to defend himself. Abigail talks to Proctor in an unarguable manner, assuming that the other person would not refute. This can be seen during the line “I have a sense ~ looked up my window?”. Using a question mark at the end of the sentence, Abigail almost forces the fact onto Proctor so that he cannot deny whatever mistake he could have made. This shows Abigail’s selfishness and her wanting to be the correct one. Abigail’s selfishness can also be seen in the use of diction.
Arthur Miller used diction to show her selfishness and have no respect to others. As Proctor was denying the fact that he loved Abigail, Abigail accused Elizabeth as the one that took Proctor’s heart away from her. She said that Elizabeth was a “cold, sniveling women” implying that Elizabeth took away Proctor in an unfavorable way for Abigail. She also stated that Elizabeth was a “sickly” wife, almost insulting Proctor himself for marrying her. It can be seen from this statement that although Abigail did not liked getting insulted, she insulted other people herself using strong words such as cold, sniveling and sickly. She insulted people without thinking in their side of the position and clearly acted in a selfish manner of ending a conversation when she felt the need for it. Another example would be in the line “I know how you ~ sweated like a stallion”. Abigail used a simile, a stallion in particular compared to Proctor, to describe how energetic Proctor was during the affair. The choice of word here is particular because in John Proctor’s view, it would be very embarrassing being compared to a stallion when a young girl like Abigail shouts outs how good he was in having sex. This shows that Abigail does not respect the other person and blabbers whatever words she needs to in order to gain her benefits. Also, the act of slyness to gain her own benefits can be seen in some stage directions.
Arthur Miller used stage directions to show Abigail’s way of gaining her own benefits in whatever way possible. When Abigail hears a threat being made at her, she turns into a sly fox, changing her tone of voice to slip out of the situation. For an example when Proctor says the line “Do you look for whipin’?”, Abigail immediately switches her voice from anger to a sad tone “in tears”. This line tells the readers that Abigail will do anything for herself, even abolish her pride in order to carry on with a situation. Also, Abigail seemed very insulted when Proctor called her a “Child” showing how she does not like being mocked. Abigail had been talking about how Proctor used to be nice and warm before and how much she missed him. According to the stage direction “she is weeping”, this part was said in a very sorrow tone, as if Abigail was a beggar begging for money.
Observing the situation, Proctor called Abigail a “with great sympathy but firmly: Child” because she was acting immature. Very offended by the word “Child—”, Abigail cut Proctor while he was talking and screamed at Proctor saying “with a flash of anger: How do you call me a child!”. The stage direction “with a flash of anger” signifies the anger that she carried in her voice, showing how Abigail does not like to be mocked in any sort of way. The irony here is that Abigail had been saying things that Proctor did not like for the whole time in the passage, but as she was faced to hear things that she did not like, she immediately showed her selfishness and became angry. Lastly, she also makes but which displeases the receiver. As seen in the stage direction “she clutches him desperately.”, she grabs on to Proctor for her own pleasure. But on the next line Proctor pushes her away from her as seen in the stage direction “gently pressing her from him”. By this part, it can be seen that Abigail is very selfish, making an act that may please herself but without the other person’s approval.
Pulilius Syrus (Roman author , 1st Century B.C.) said this: “Poverty wants much; but avarice, everything”. Something more dangerous than the desire to become free from poverty is greed. When a person wants too much, they eventually fall into an endless hole. People may say that a good amount of greed in a sense of ambition may be a benefit, but once a person gets greedy, there is no way to stop the greed to carry the person away. Abigail has a high amount of ambition which may contribute to her determination to gain her desires, but anything of too much is not effective. Although not mentioned in the passage, later on Abigail flees the town with some money and is later said to become a prostitute, having a miserable life. The wrong usage of greed can lead humans into an irreversible state of chaos. This is why we should not let our desires overflow our minds and lead to corruption.