Abigail is the former mistress of John Proctor, and also the previous maid of the Proctor residence. Abigail is the niece of Revered Parris and attempted to practise witchcraft, only to be caught by her uncle. This lead to the arrival of several other characters to precede in the Salem witch trials, where Abigail and her friends act as witnesses. In the beginning of the play, she seems to be dishonest in admitting to witchcraft. When she talks to Parris, she attempts to use Tituba as a scapegoat. “But we never conjured spirits…
She always sings her Barbados songs, and we dance. ” Abigail tells this to Parris to attempt to clear her name, as she and her friends are accused of witchcraft by the Reverend. She might be thinking that if she persuades her Uncle long enough, the civil blood between the two would make Parris believe that she is innocent, yet Parris is already concerned over the reputation she is getting from a remark that Elizabeth had supposedly made. “… she comes so rarely to church this year for she will not sit so close to something soiled… ”
This has one of the biggest in the opening Act as this sends a message to the audience of what Abigail’s character is based around, and what she is truly like. In my opinion, Miller describes Abigail’s character in this manner as he is trying to contrast her character with that of Elizabeth, in the sense of honesty, as how Elizabeth is described in a later discussion between Proctor and Danforth. Abigail is shown to be a sweet young woman, caring for her relatives. This is shown in the book, which would make you believe that she is innocent.
However, in the film of “The Crucible,” Abigail is shown dancing at the beginning of the first segment. This changes your perspective of the character Abigail, due to the relatively bad thing she is performing, which back in those days and what many people believe even now to be a sin. “In her life sir, she never lied… my wife cannot lie” Therefore Abigail is said to lie a great deal, whilst Elizabeth hardly ever lies. Abigail is quick to change her attitude to the girls, intimidating them into a worrisome state. She speaks to her so called ‘friends’ about the consequences of telling of the witchery they attempted to perform.
She uses a natural power she has to strike terror in the hearts of her friends. She also shows how maniacal and ruthless she can be. “Let either of you breathe a word… and I will come in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. ” Abigail says this to her group of girls as she aims to strike fear in the eye of her followers, stating that if they were to betray her, she would come back and haunt them. And as she explains how she has seen murders occur before her very own eyes, she exclaims she is able to murder any victim she desires.
This affects the audience, as in the beginning of the play, they observe a sweet, young lady transform so quickly into this vicious, desperate girl. I think Miller quickly turns Abigail into this enraged character as now the audience can see just how she really acts, behind the faces of her elders. He is successful in doing this as just a few minutes in the plays time before this, as she talks to Parris; she seems to be trying to show Parris of how considerate she is of his feelings by asking him to rest. “Uncle, you’ve prayed since midnight. Why do you not go down and -”
He shows her speaking with Parris in a manor which a child would talk to their own parents, contrasting the way she talks to her friends, which I think in her opinion is people who she has power over. Miller attempts to show a classic stereotype of a distressed person in a forlorn situation when she is seen talking to her friends. Abigail does have a soft spot in her heart for one person – John Proctor. We, the audience hear that John and Abigail have had an affair. In Proctors mind, it is now clearly over between them. “I’ll not be comin’ for you no more”
But Abigail does not see their relationship this way, and thinks that they should be together. “Give me a word, John. A soft word. ” She says this to entice him towards her, in a manner of flirtation. This affects the audience by letting them know who the one man Abigail is in love with is, and how she is willing to re-kindle her relationship with Proctor, even if it means to make Elizabeth a divorcee. I think Miller writes about Abigail in this way to show the audience just how her character resembles that of a stereotype of a young, spoilt girl who will do anything to get what she wants, but never what she deserves.
Abigail becomes quick to hand the blame of practising witchcraft over to Tituba, whilst she and her friends knew that it was her lead the witchery into the stage of being “worshippers of Lucifer. ” When Hale and Parris came to confront Abigail about the witchery, the pressure became too much for her, and blurted out the only persons name she thought she could get away with. “Did you call the Devil last night? ” “I never called him! Tituba… Tituba… ” Hale and Parris are quick to believe the story of Abigail, calling for the presence of Tituba. But at the same they time, they do begin to fear the safety of Abigail from the Devil.
“Have you sold yourself to Lucifer? ” “I never sold myself! I’m a good girl! I’m a proper girl! ” She probably done this to show all of her elders that she is a good Christian girl, and lied to protect herself from a punishment and to also save her Uncle’s reputation as the towns Reverend. This shows just how ruthless Abigail can be, and to what lengths she would go to bring her own happiness, even if it meant causing pain and suffering to others. I think Miller done this to be constant in Abigail’s character, showing she can be deceiving and sly.
This also shows throughout Act 1, Abigail has maintained a constant character. In the duration of Act Two, Abigail didn’t make an appearance, but she was, however, talked about a lot by the other characters, especially by the Proctors. It also appears that she tried to frame Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft, by cleverly, yet deceivingly sticking a needle into her in the same position a needle was in Elizabeth’s doll, acting as if Elizabeth’s “poppet” was a voodoo doll. But this incident isn’t seen, but only talked about by Cheever to Hale, Proctor and Elizabeth.